31 October 2005

It's all about priorities...

5 years and counting....

August 2, 2000
"George W. Bush will repair what has been damaged....On the first hour
of the first day, he will restore decency and integrity to the Oval
Office."
Dick Cheney, Speech to the 2000 Republican Convention

August 3, 2000
"My fellow citizens, we can begin again. After all of the shouting, and
all of the scandal. After all of the bitterness and broken faith. We
can begin again."
George W. Bush, Speech to the 2000 Republican Convention

October 30, 2005
"Barely a third of Americans -- 34 percent -- think Bush is doing a
good job ensuring high ethics in government, which is lower
than President Bill Clinton's standing on this issue when he left
office."
Washington Post/ABC News Poll

28 October 2005

Absolute Corruption

Why did they so need a war in Iraq?

Karl and Scooter's Excellent Adventure... By Frank Rich

There were no weapons of mass destruction. There was no collaboration between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda on 9/11. There was scant Pentagon planning for securing the peace should bad stuff happen after America invaded. Why, exactly, did we go to war in Iraq?

"It still isn't possible to be sure - and this remains the most remarkable thing about the Iraq war," writes the New Yorker journalist George Packer, a disenchanted supporter of the invasion, in his essential new book, "The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq." Even a former Bush administration State Department official who was present at the war's creation, Richard Haass, tells Mr. Packer that he expects to go to his grave "not knowing the answer."

24 October 2005

Shhh, the fascists have quietly usurped control!!!

The Bunker Mentality... By William Rivers Pitt

I wrote to Ambassador Joseph Wilson last week to ask how he and his wife were bearing up, and to remind them that they had a lot of friends. "The outpouring of support has been of great comfort to us these past two years," he wrote back. "The stakes are enormous. This is all about whether our government can take us to war on lies without any fear of being held to account, and whether our democracy can survive the coalition of fascist forces that have seized control of the levers of power."

Heavy stuff. Yet if the desperation we are seeing on the part of defenders of this administration offers any clue, the fascists are running out of explanations. Take Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's performance on this past Sunday's version of Meet the Press. "I certainly hope," she said when asked about the Fitzgerald investigation into the deliberate outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame, "that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation were not a waste of time and dollars."

Some perjury technicality, eh? Waste of time and dollars?

Funny the difference almost seven years and two broken elections can make. Back on February 12, 1999, when Ms. Hutchison cast her vote to impeach a sitting president of the United States, she was of a different mind when it came to perjury. Her statement in Congress practically peeled the paint off the wall, so laden was it with outrage at the violation of an oath taken before the delivery of sworn testimony.

"The edifice of American jurisprudence rests on the foundation of the due process of law," Ms. Hutchison's best speechwriter wrote for her to read that day. "The mortar in that foundation is the oath. Every day, thousands of citizens in thousands of courtrooms across America are sworn in as jurors, as grand jurors, as witnesses, as defendants. On those oaths rest the due process of law upon which all of our other rights are based. The oath is how we defend ourselves against those who would subvert our system by breaking our laws. There are Americans in jail today because they violated that oath."

Here's the funny part. President Clinton violated that oath after being asked a bunch of questions about his personal life, his sex life.

It's a little different today. Anyone violating that oath in Fitzgerald's investigation, be they Lewis Libby or Karl Rove or Judith Miller or John Hannah, will have done so after being asked questions about the deliberate destruction, for political means, of a NOC agent for the CIA who was tasked to track any person, nation or group that might give weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. They will have done so after being asked questions about the destruction of Ms. Plame's intelligence networks, which were assembled person by person in unfriendly lands to help her do her job.

They will have done so after being asked questions about how, exactly, this White House manufactured evidence of WMD in Iraq, by way of the White House Iraq Group and the Office of Special Plans, and sold it to the American people - the interruption of which by Joseph Wilson being the reason we are all dealing with this mess today.

Makes the last few years of the '90s seem a giant waste of time, eh?

Funny the difference a few years can make. There were a thousand things wrong in the '90s, to be sure, and more than a few of them stemmed from the government and, specifically, the White House. In those days, however, there was still a sense of optimism. We were in the world and of the world, yet still Americans, still strong and proud. We were riding high, having figured out how to have historic economic expansion and opportunity while still providing the money necessary for programs and policies that helped those who needed a hand. So much remained to be done, but the outlines of a blueprint for getting it done seemed to be out there.

Not so much anymore. Now, we are a nation that believes itself under siege, afraid of our own shadows, afraid of chickens and airplanes and subways and gasoline prices and storms and the nightly news and anyone who doesn't look like an American, whatever that means. Yellow. Orange. We fight them there so we don't have to fight them here. The enemy is all around us, we are told by this administration, ready to strike. Be ready, we hear. Be angry. Be afraid.

Psssst ... Joe Wilson is right. They are fascists, and this is what fascists do. They make people afraid. They turn a populace against an outsider while at the same time denying that populace information or even hope of a peaceful resolution. They mobilize for attack through intimidation and scare-tactics. Ask Herman Goering, who explained during the Nuremburg trials, "Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

Welcome to the bunker mentality, courtesy of George W. Bush and the folks who brought you the catastrophic invasion of Iraq, the escape and continued freedom of Osama bin Laden, the annihilation of faith in the business community by way of Enron, the annihilation of any sense of personal security by way of Katrina, the annihilation of our standing on the international stage, the big lie about weapons of mass destruction, and an awful lot of dead American soldiers. They used September 11 against you to get these things, or to get away with these things, depending on the need at hand. The result is a proud, great nation on its knees.

This whole situation with Fitzgerald and Plame and Wilson and Libby and Rove and the rest is but a symptom of the larger disease we endure. This White House bunkered itself in way back in 2001, relying only upon ideologically-vetted yes-men who all agreed upon a singular course of action. If Ms. Hutchison's performance is any indication, and it is, the walls of the bunker are closing in all around them.

Their failure to deal with straightforward facts, their reliance upon the idea that political ideology and political goals can render straightforward facts malleable and subject to change, their deliberate decision to run the government and manage the people by way of a Cold War mentality that uses fear as the prime motivator, their desire to control information through aspirations of absolute authority, has delivered the rest of us into the bunker with them.

It did not used to be this way. It does not have to be this way.

Breaking Ranks

Jeffrey Goldberg's Scowcroft Article: "Breaking Ranks"

In "Breaking Ranks" (p. 54), in the October 31, 2005, issue of The New Yorker, Jeffrey Goldberg reports on the growing divide between the Bush Administration and its Republican critics. The criticism from Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to George H.W. Bush, has been particularly pronounced, Goldberg writes. Scowcroft recalls advice he gave the first President Bush at the conclusion of the first Gulf War, when there was pressure to remove Saddam Hussein.

It would have been easy to reach Baghdad, Scowcroft said, but what then? "At the minimum, we'd be an occupier in a hostile land. Our forces would be sniped at by guerrillas, and once we were there, how would we get out? What would be the rationale for leaving? I don't like the term 'exit strategy' - but what do you do with Iraq once you own it?" Scowcroft then said of Iraq, "This is exactly where we are now. We own it. And we can't let go. We're getting sniped at. Now, will we win? I think there's a fair chance we'll win. But look at the cost."

Scowcroft has known George W. Bush for decades, but since the beginning of the Iraq war, he has been frozen out of the White House. "On the face of it," Goldberg writes, "this is remarkable," because Scowcroft's best friend is the former President Bush; the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, was a Scowcroft protege; and Vice-President Dick Cheney is also a friend. "The real anomaly in the Administration is Cheney," Scowcroft told Goldberg.

"I consider Cheney a good friend - I've known him for thirty years. But this Dick Cheney I don't know anymore." When, in an e-mail, George H.W. Bush was asked about Scowcroft's most useful qualities as an adviser, the former President wrote that he "was very good about making sure that we did not simply consider the 'best case,' but instead considered what it would mean if things went our way, and also if they did not."

According to friends of the elder Bush, the "estrangement of his son and his best friend has been an abiding source of unhappiness," Goldberg writes. Scowcroft said he hoped for a better relationship with the son, and adds, "I like George Bush personally, and he is the son of a man I'm just crazy about." Of the differences between father and son, Scowcroft said, "I don't want to go there."

Colleagues have paid particular notice to the relationship between Scowcroft and Rice, who worked closely during the first Bush Administration. Friends of Scowcroft recall a dinner in September of 2002, when discussion of the impending war in Iraq became heated. As Goldberg reports, Rice finally said, irritably, "The world is a messy place, and someone has to clean it up."

"For Scowcroft," Goldberg writes, "the second Gulf war is a reminder of the unwelcome consequences of radical intervention, especially when it is attempted without sufficient understanding of America's limitations or of the history of a region." Scowcroft says, "I believe in the fallibility of human nature. We continually step on our best aspirations. We're humans. Given a chance to screw up, we will."

Miers' homework returned

Miers' Answer Raises Questions... By David G. Savage

Legal experts find a misuse of terms in her Senate questionnaire 'terrible' and 'shocking.'

Asked to describe the constitutional issues she had worked on during her legal career, Supreme Court nominee Harriet E. Miers had relatively little to say on the questionnaire she sent to the Senate this week.

And what she did say left many constitutional experts shaking their heads.

At one point, Miers described her service on the Dallas City Council in 1989. When the city was sued on allegations that it violated the Voting Rights Act, she said, "the council had to be sure to comply with the proportional representation requirement of the Equal Protection Clause."

But the Supreme Court repeatedly has said the Constitution's guarantee of "equal protection of the laws" does not mean that city councils or state legislatures must have the same proportion of blacks, Latinos and Asians as the voting population.

"That's a terrible answer. There is no proportional representation requirement under the equal protection clause," said New York University law professor Burt Neuborne, a voting rights expert. "If a first-year law student wrote that and submitted it in class, I would send it back and say it was unacceptable."

Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan said she was surprised the White House did not check Miers' questionnaire before sending it to the Senate.

"Are they trying to set her up? Any halfway competent junior lawyer could have checked the questionnaire and said it cannot go out like that. I find it shocking," she said.

In the 1960s, the Supreme Court adopted the "one person, one vote" concept as a rule under the equal protection clause. Previously, rural districts with few voters often had the same clout in legislatures as heavily populated urban districts. Afterward, their clout was equal to the number of voters they represented. But voting rights experts do not describe this rule as "proportional representation," which has a specific, different meaning.

"Either Miers misunderstood what the equal protection clause requires, or she was using loose language to say something about compliance with the one-person, one-vote rule," said Richard L. Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who specializes in election law. "Either way, it is very sloppy and unnecessary. Someone should have caught that."

Should we be asking.... are we safer?

War in Iraq Fueling Global Insecurity, Canadian Spy Chief Warns... The Canadian Press

The head of Canada's spy agency strongly stated Thursday the US-led war in Iraq is making the world a less secure place.

"Diplomacy is not my field, security and intelligence is," CSIS director Jim Judd said at a conference on intelligence studies. "And I think from a security and intelligence perspective, the conflict in Iraq is creating longer-term problems, not just for Iraq but other jurisdictions as well."

The head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said Iraq is becoming a "kind of a test bed for new techniques" for Islamic extremists.

Judd expressed concern about the dangers extremists from North America, Europe and the Middle East pose once they leave Iraq.

"It raises the longer-term question of what do they bode for the future?" Judd said.

Journalist and author Peter Bergen warned that the war in Iraq could spawn a new generation of trained warriors - the "shock troops of the new international jihad" - determined to carry out terrorist attacks against the West.

Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network has proven alluring to wayward extremists partly because western societies have done a poor job of challenging his arguments, terrorism experts told the conference.

Young students who attend the most radical Muslim schools are presented with a violent world view and taught to despise "corrupting western influences" from an early age, said Karin von Hippel of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"We've lost the moral high ground to the wrong people, and we need to get it back," von Hippel said.

Bergen said an attack by Islamic extremists on a major city with a radiological weapon - a conventional bomb that spreads radiation over an area of several blocks - "seems probable" in the future.

The conference, which continues through Saturday, has attracted about 360 security officials, academics and commentators, including well-known American journalist Seymour Hersh.

Hersh, who has reported extensively about the abuse of prisoners in Iraq, said he has become fascinated by what he sees as a neo-conservative coup in the corridors of US power.

"The faster out of Iraq, the better it is," Hersh said.

23 October 2005

Miers Received 'Excessive' Sum in Land Case

Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers collected more than 10 times the market value for a small slice of family-owned land in a large Superfund pollution cleanup site in Dallas where the state wanted to build a highway off-ramp.

The windfall came after a judge who received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Miers' law firm appointed a close professional associate of Miers and an outspoken property-rights activist to the three-person panel that determined how much the state should pay.

The resulting six-figure payout to the Miers family in 2000 was despite the state's objections to the "excessive" amount and to the process used to set the price. The panel recommended paying nearly $5 a square foot for land that was valued at less than 30 cents a square foot.

Mediation efforts in 2003 reduced the award, but Miers, who controls the family's interest in the land, hasn't reimbursed the state for the difference, even after Bush appointed her to the Supreme Court.

The case raises new questions about Miers' judgment at a time when her nomination is troubled by doubts about her qualifications for the nation's highest court and accusations that she was chosen mostly because of her close friendship with President Bush.

Supreme Court justices, unlike other government officials, define potential conflicts of interest for themselves and are responsible for policing their own ethics.

"If Harriet Miers is confirmed, she'll be entrusted to make a large number of un-reviewable decisions about which cases to sit on," said Doug Kendall, the executive director of the Community Rights Counsel, a public-interest law firm in Washington. Kendall said the fact that Miers raised no red flags in the face of "clearly disturbing facts" in the land condemnation case doesn't say much for her ethical acumen.

Even though Miers was the president of her law firm, she says didn't know the specifics about the firm's campaign contributions to the judge.

The land, at the corner of North Westmoreland Road and Interstate 30 in west Dallas, was one of several parcels that Miers' father purchased in the area after World War II. The market value for the entire 18.74-acre lot, according to state tax records, was only $244,890. It is vacant and brush-covered.

The state wanted to build an off-ramp from I-30 onto Westmoreland Road and needed a small northeast corner of the Miers' lot to do it.

Texas law says that in condemnation cases, a judge must appoint three "disinterested" special commissioners to hear evidence, determine the "injury or benefit" of the state's action to the property owner, and rule on what, if anything, the state should pay for the property.

But there was an accumulation of shared interests - dating back years - among several of the parties that assembled in state District Judge David Evans' courtroom to settle the Miers' case.

Campaign finance reports in Dallas show that Miers' law firm, Locke Purnell Rain & Harrell, had contributed to Evans' political campaigns between 1993 and 2001. That included a $3,000 contribution in 1998, the year before the Miers' condemnation case appeared in Evans' court.

Evans declined repeated requests for an interview.

One of the three commissioners whom Evans appointed to hear the case was Peggy Lundy, a close professional friend and political ally of Miers.

Lundy is listed among Miers' "personal friends" by a conservative interest group, Progress for America, which supports her nomination to the high court.

"Mrs. Lundy's late husband, Judge Nick Lundy of Dallas, attended Southern Methodist University Law School with Harriet Miers and they have known each other for years," the group said in an Oct. 3 press release. In an interview Thursday, Lundy said she and Miers worked closely together on a commission set up to restructure Dallas' municipal court system. Lundy said that she recruited Evans to run for judge and served as the treasurer of his first campaign and as an adviser to several others.

Evans also appointed one of his campaign contributors, Cathie Adams, to work on Miers' case. At the time, she was president of the Dallas Eagle Forum, a politically active conservative organization that touts its "pro-family movement."

Scott Young, the Dallas lawyer who represented the Miers family in the case, never signed the settlement papers, and Miers never repaid the difference.

Kelley also said the state had no knowledge of the two commissioners' prior relationships with Miers and the judge.

"The judge appointed the commissioners. Our attorneys here … had no knowledge of the commissioners one way or another and assumed it would be a fair hearing," Kelley said.

The market value of the Miers' land had been depressed because it is located within a federal Superfund site that had been contaminated by an old lead smelter.

Criminal Presidency

Finally it appears that the dark cloud of secrecy around the Bush administration [like a blood ritual] may finally be breaking as Republicans close to the situation are beginning to speak out. Previously, it appeared that no one would speak up due to the well known practice of character assassination by Rove that has always followed Bush. Either you tow the line or they would destroy your career and reputation. Dirty pool at it's dirtiest.

The coming article by Brent Scowcroft is just one more in growing line of whistleblowers on this administration. As their position weakens with the public they are finally seen as vulnerable. Sad that things had to get this bad before those that knew better began asking questions.

Old Bush vs. New

Washington - The Bush administration is bracing for a powerful new attack by Brent Scowcroft, the respected national security adviser to the first President George Bush.

A Republican and a former Air Force general, Scowcroft is a leading member of the bipartisan foreign policy establishment, and his critique of both the style and the substance of the Bush White House, is slated to appear in Monday's editions of the New Yorker magazine.

The article also contains some critical comments on the handling of U.S. foreign policy by the current President Bush from his father, whose 1989-1993 presidency is hailed for deft management of the end of the Cold War, German unification, and the first Gulf war.

The new attack comes hard on the heels of the denunciation of "the cabal around Cheney's office" by Col. Larry Wilkerson, a Republican and the chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell in a widely reported speech to the New American Foundation in Washington this week. Wilkerson said the national security decision-making process was effectively "broken."

Scowcroft's criticisms will be taken seriously at the highest levels of the Bush administration because he is seen as a mentor by some of its senior figures, notably Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whose political career began when she worked under Scowcroft as an adviser on Soviet affairs.

The attack also comes as President Bush's opinion poll approval ratings have sunk to a record low, around 37 percent, partly reflecting the ill-handled federal government response to Hurricane Katrina's devastation of the Gulf coast. But large majorities of Americans are also telling pollsters the country "is on the wrong track" and saying the Iraq war was a mistake as casualities mount and lies exposed.

The beleaguered Bush administration is also nervously waiting to see whether indictments in the CIA leak case are to be handed down next week against two key White House aides, Karl Rove and "Scooter" Libby. The White House is also facing heavy flak from its conservative base over the controversial nomination of the president's counsel and friend, Harriet Miers, to the vacant seat on the Supreme Court. And traditional balanced-budget Republicans have been dismayed by the double deficit, a combined deficit on the federal budget and on the current account that adds up to over $1 trillion this year.

A cartoon in the Washington Post Friday depicted the Bush White House being inundated by "The Perfect Storm" of Miers, Hurricane Katrina, Iraq, Rove, the budget deficit, the investigation of Sen. Frist, and the indictment this week of the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, Tom DeLay, on charges of money laundering campaign funds.

Our morally bankrupt administration's policies

Torture in Iraq

The following is an excerpt from "Leadership Failure: Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the US Army's 82nd Airborne Division," a report issued by Human Rights Watch on September 25, 2005. The full report is available at http://hrw.org/reports/2005/us0905.

"On their day off people would show up all the time. Everyone in camp knew if you wanted to work out your frustration you show up at the PUC tent [where prisoners were held]. It was sport. The cooks were all US soldiers. One day a sergeant shows up and tells a PUC to grab a pole. He told him to bend over and broke the guy's leg with a Louisville Slugger that was a metal bat. He was just a fucking cook. He shouldn't even be in with no PUCs [prisoners]."
-82nd Airborne sergeant,describing events at FOB Mercury, Iraq

"If I as an officer think we're not even following the Geneva Conventions, there's something wrong. If officers witness all these things happening, and don't take action, there's something wrong. If another West Pointer tells me he thinks, 'Well, hitting somebody might be okay,' there's something really wrong."
-82nd Airborne officer, describing confusion in Iraq concerning allowable interrogation techniques

Residents of Fallujah called them "the Murderous Maniacs" because of how they treated Iraqis in detention. They were soldiers of the US Army's 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, stationed at Forward Operating Base Mercury (FOB Mercury) in Iraq. The soldiers considered this name a badge of honor.

Why hasn't this been thoroughly investigated? Because the White House and the Pentagon are conducting an 'internal' investigation to protect themselves. This needs a special prosector to fully investigate these horrendous abuses which will forever stain our country's history.

22 October 2005

Cheney and Rumsfeld controlled the dialogue

Cheney 'Cabal' Hijacked Foreign Policy... By Edward Alden

Vice-President Dick Cheney and a handful of others had hijacked the government's foreign policy apparatus, deciding in secret to carry out policies that had left the US weaker and more isolated in the world, the top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed on Wednesday.

In a scathing attack on the record of President George W. Bush, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January, said: "What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.

"Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences."

Mr Wilkerson said such secret decision-making was responsible for mistakes such as the long refusal to engage with North Korea or to back European efforts on Iran.

It also resulted in bitter battles in the administration among those excluded from the decisions.

"If you're not prepared to stop the feuding elements in the bureaucracy as they carry out your decisions, you are courting disaster. And I would say that we have courted disaster in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran."

The comments, made at the New America Foundation, a Washington think-tank, were the harshest attack on the administration by a former senior official since criticisms by Richard Clarke, former White House terrorism czar, and Paul O'Neill, former Treasury secretary, early last year.

Mr Wilkerson said his decision to go public had led to a personal falling out with Mr Powell, whom he served for 16 years at the Pentagon and the State Department.

"He's not happy with my speaking out because, and I admire this in him, he is the world's most loyal soldier."

Among his other charges:

The detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere was "a concrete example" of the decision-making problem, with the president and other top officials in effect giving the green light to soldiers to abuse detainees. "You don't have this kind of pervasive attitude out there unless you've condoned it."

Condoleezza Rice, the former national security adviser and now secretary of state, was "part of the problem". Instead of ensuring that Mr Bush received the best possible advice, "she would side with the president to build her intimacy with the president".

The military, particularly the army and marine corps, is overstretched and demoralised. Officers, Mr Wilkerson claimed, "start voting with their feet, as they did in Vietnam. . . and all of a sudden your military begins to unravel".

Mr Wilkerson said former president George H.W. Bush "one of the finest presidents we have ever had" understood how to make foreign policy work. In contrast, he said, his son was "not versed in international relations and not too much interested in them either".

"There's a vast difference between the way George H.W. Bush dealt with major challenges, some of the greatest challenges at the end of the 20th century, and effected positive results in my view, and the way we conduct diplomacy today."

FEMA official in New Orleans blasts agency's response

Regional director said top officials ignored his pleas for help

Marty Bahamonde, a regional FEMA director, testified before a Senate panel Thursday.

In the midst of the chaos that followed Hurricane Katrina, a Federal Emergency Management Agency official in New Orleans sent a dire e-mail to Director Michael Brown saying victims had no food and were dying.

No response came from Brown.

Instead, less than three hours later, an aide to Brown sent an e-mail saying her boss wanted to go on a television program that night -- after needing over an hour to eat dinner at a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, restaurant.

The e-mails were made public Thursday at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing featuring Marty Bahamonde, the first agency official to arrive in New Orleans in advance of the August 29 storm. The hurricane killed more than 1,200 people and forced hundreds of thousands to evacuate.

Bahamonde, who sent the e-mail to Brown two days after the storm struck, said the correspondence illustrates the government's failure to grasp what was happening.

"There was a systematic failure at all levels of government to understand the magnitude of the situation," Bahamonde testified. "The leadership from top down in our agency is unprepared and out of touch."

The 19 pages of internal FEMA e-mails show Bahamonde gave regular updates to people in contact with Brown as early as August 28, the day before Katrina made landfall. They appear to contradict Brown, who has said he was not fully aware of the conditions until days after the storm hit. Brown quit after being recalled from New Orleans amid criticism of his work.

Brown had sent Bahamonde, FEMA's regional director in New England, to New Orleans to help coordinate the agency's response. Bahamonde arrived on August 27 and was the only FEMA official at the scene until FEMA disaster teams arrived on August 30.

As Katrina's outer bands began drenching the city August 28, Bahamonde sent an e-mail to Deborah Wing, a FEMA response specialist. He wrote: "Everyone is soaked. This is going to get ugly real fast."

Subsequent e-mails told of an increasingly desperate situation at the New Orleans Superdome, where tens of thousands of evacuees were staying. Bahamonde spent two nights there with the evacuees.

On August 31, Bahamonde e-mailed Brown to tell him that thousands of evacuees were gathering in the streets with no food or water and that "estimates are many will die within hours."

"Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical," Bahamonde wrote. "The sooner we can get the medical patients out, the sooner we can get them out."

A short time later, Brown's press secretary, Sharon Worthy, wrote colleagues to complain that the FEMA director needed more time to eat dinner at a Baton Rouge restaurant that evening.

"He needs another [sic] 20 or 30 minutes," Worthy wrote.

"Restaurants are getting busy," she said. "We now have traffic to encounter to go to and from a location of his choise [sic], followed by wait service from the restaurant staff, eating, etc. Thank you."

In an August 29 phone call to Brown informing him that the first levee had failed, Bahamonde said he asked for guidance but did not get a response.

"He just said, 'Thank you,' and that he was going to call the White House," Bahamonde said.

Senators on the committee were dismayed.

"We will examine further why critical information provided by Mr. Bahamonde was either discounted, misunderstood, or simply not acted upon," said GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who heads the committee. She decried the "complete disconnect between senior officials and the reality of the situation."

Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, committee's top Democrat, said Bahamonde's story is "ultimately infuriating and raises serious questions which our committee's investigation must answer."

In e-mails, Bahamonde described to his bosses a chaotic situation at the Superdome. Bahamonde noted also that local officials were asking for toilet paper, a sign that supplies were lacking at the shelter.

"Issues developing at the Superdome. The medical staff at the dome says they will run out of oxygen in about two hours and are looking for alternative oxygen," Bahamonde wrote regional director David Passey on August 28.

Bahamonde said he was stunned that FEMA officials responded by continuing to send truckloads of evacuees to the Superdome for two more days even though they knew supplies were in short supply.

"I thought it amazing," he said. "I believed at the time and still do today, that I was confirming the worst-case scenario that everyone had always talked about regarding New Orleans."

the new American slave trade...

Halliburton's New Low in Treachery... By Dave Zweifel

The Chicago Tribune produced an incredible story last week detailing how unsuspecting young men from poor countries are tricked into working in dangerous jobs for a Halliburton subsidiary in Iraq.

The two-part series retraced the journey of a group of Nepalese men who were lured to the Mideast with fraudulent paperwork that promised them jobs at a luxury hotel in Amman, Jordan, but instead wound up in Iraq working for the Halliburton subsidiary KBR, America's biggest private contractor there.

What was even more startling was the stories' revelation that the operation is financed with US taxpayer money.

According to the Tribune, American tax dollars and the wartime needs of the US military are fueling an illicit pipeline of cheap foreign labor into Iraq. Most of those falling for the fraudulent job offers are impoverished Asians who, the newspaper said, "often are deceived, exploited and put in harm's way with little protection."

The Tribune got on the story after 12 young civilians from Nepal were kidnapped by terrorists in Iraq and a few days later publicly slaughtered. The newspaper sent a reporter and photographer to Nepal, where they interviewed families and friends and soon discovered that thousands of men are routinely recruited for "good" Mideast jobs, but wind up in the most treacherous stretches of Iraq territory working in private jobs for the US military.

A brother of one of the kidnapped men told Cam Simpson, the Trib reporter, that the last time he heard from his brother was when he called from his supposed job in Jordan. He was being sent against his will to Iraq, the brother said, and then blurted out, "I am done for." The phone then went dead. The next time the young Nepalese was seen was on a TV screen two weeks later, his hands tied behind his back and a gun pointed at his head.

Simpson reported that the trail of those dozen men from Nepal revealed a chain of brokers, middlemen and subcontractors along the way, all of whom stood to profit from the trade.

To maintain the flow of cheap labor that is key to the military support and reconstruction in Iraq, the US military has allowed KBR to partner with subcontractors that hire workers from Nepal and other countries that prohibit their citizens from being deployed in Iraq, the story said. That means that the brokers operate illicitly and falsify documents that describe far different jobs near Iraq, which eventually turn out to be smack dab in the middle of the country.

"Even after foreign workers discover they have been lured to the Middle East under false pretenses, many say they have little choice but to continue into Iraq or stay longer than planned," the story continued. "They feel trapped because they must repay huge fees demanded by brokers."

KBR, which has a multibillion-dollar contract with the US Defense Department, pays the subcontractors for finding it employees to do the cleanup and rebuilding work in Iraq.

The tentacles of this war keep getting this country deeper and deeper into places we shouldn't be, including this atrocious practice that the Chicago Tribune has uncovered.

21 October 2005

Say Cheese.... smug even in prison....

19 October 2005

Sweet vengeance rains upon the wicked.....

A Texas court on Wednesday issued a warrant for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's arrest, and set an initial $10,000 bail before his first court appearance on conspiracy and state money laundering charges.

Travis County court officials said DeLay was ordered to appear at the Fort Bend County, Texas, jail for booking, where he'd likely be fingerprinted and photographed.

Gen Powell like others begin to speak out....

Beyond the Miller-Libby game: people died.

Six weeks ago, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said publicly that the pre-war speech he gave to the United Nations in early 2003 claiming vast evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that turned out to be nonexistent was a "painful" and lasting "blot" on his career.

Though his language of regret was bitterly potent, and it was Powell's first in-depth interview since leaving office in January, the nation's press gave it subdued play, far from the front page, and let it die after one day's run.

"I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United States to the world," he told ABC's Barbara Walters, "and it will always be part of my record. It was painful. It is painful now."

Powell blamed the detailed misinformation he spread before the U.N.-about stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and an active nuclear weapons program-on "some people in the intelligence community who knew at that time that some of these sources were not good, and shouldn't be relied upon, and they didn't speak up. That devastated me."

His U.N. speech, delivered on February 5, 2003, less than two months before the U.S. invasion, did not sway the U.N. to support the war, but it did raise support for it with the American public.

Powell brought it up because it seemed to link directly to another story-the Plamegate investigation-that definitely is getting a lot of attention.

Wilson came back and reported he had found nothing to bear out the story. The documents supporting it seemed inauthentic. (Later it was established that they were actually forgeries. It was a hoax.) But the Bush administration brushed aside Wilson's findings and began presenting the story as authentic to Congress's key intelligence committees to rally votes for the war. Colin Powell, not told the Niger intelligence was bogus, was one of the presenters. Bush got his congressional war vote in early March.

Joseph Wilson, frustrated that his findings had been trashed, finally went public with an op-ed piece for The New York Times on July 6, 2003, laying out his information and accusing the administration of "twisting" intelligence to justify the war. With this, the White House's Plamegate smear campaign-which seems to have begun months earlier out of the office of Cheney, the administration's leading hawk-apparently revved into high gear.

The day after Wilson's Times piece appeared, the White House retracted its Niger story. It was the first admission of falsehood or distortion in its case for the war.

The president has yet to admit he told massive untruths about WMDs and the Iraqi threat in his State of the Union address in late January 2003, just before U.S. forces went into battle. He even included the bogus Niger uranium story. Powell, in his U.N. speech some days later, removed the Niger story.

How does all this dovetail with Patrick Fitzgerald's Plamegate investigation? Let us count the ways. All the participants and the subject matter connect to the false claims about WMDs.

This leaked information is a direct outgrowth of all the untruths the Bush administration told to scare and con the public into supporting the war, then, at heart if not legally, the case is really about abuse of power by the executive branch.

What I find fascinating is that we're about to learn what happens when you bamboozle the public with empty words and false image-instead of trusting them with the truth, or something close to it. So then it becomes a game wrapped in a hoax-and the only goal is to get elected, not do what's good for the country.

And with a war, lots of people die. There's got to be some penalty for "leaders" who play that game-perhaps something more than a permanent blot on their record.

18 October 2005

Rehearsed

The "impromptu" talk between Bush and our troops in Iraq last week (mostly officers and all carefully screened and selected) had been reported as completely scripted by the White House. Of course, McClellan denied in a press conference later that day that the WH had so carefully manipulated the troops and their answers to fit the Administration's agenda.

But, once again, oops, tapes have just been released that show a WH aide going through each and every question even telling them how to breath and talk. Guess the WH didn't realize they were live.

Can this Administration get anything right. Karma is kicking their proverbial ass. The current White House is more scripted, manipulated, and drama-filled than the TV series "The West Wing".

Is it too early to start salivating?

White House Watch: Cheney Resignation Rumors Fly, By Paul Bedard
US News and World Report

Sparked by today's Washington Post story that suggests Vice President Cheney's office is involved in the Plame-CIA spy link investigation, government officials and advisers passed around rumors that the vice president might step aside and that President Bush would elevate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"It's certainly an interesting but I still think highly doubtful scenario," said a Bush insider. "And if that should happen," added the official, "there will undoubtedly be those who believe the whole thing was orchestrated - another brilliant Machiavellian move by the VP."

Said another Bush associate of the rumor, "Yes. This is not good." The rumor spread so fast that some Republicans by late morning were already drawing up reasons why Rice couldn't get the job or run for president in 2008.

"Isn't she pro-choice?" asked a key Senate Republican aide. Many White House insiders, however, said the Post story and reports that the investigation was coming to a close had officials instead more focused on who would be dragged into the affair and if top aides would be indicted and forced to resign.

"Folks on the inside and near inside are holding their breath and wondering what's next," said a Bush adviser.

Is Bush imitating the old Russian model of cronyism.

Political Screening for All Park Service Managers

The National Park Service (under White House orders) has started using a political loyalty test for picking all its top civil service positions. Under the new order, all mid-level managers and above must also be approved by a Bush administration political appointee.

The October 11, 2005 order issued by NPS Director Fran Mainella requires that the selection criteria for all civil service management slots include the "ability to lead employees in achieving the President's Management Agenda." In addition, all candidates must be screened by Park Service headquarters and "the Assistant Secretary [of Interior] for Fish, and Wildlife, and Parks," the number three political appointee in the agency.

The order represents a complete centralization of Park Service promotion and hiring in what has traditionally been a decentralized agency. More strikingly, the order is an unprecedented political intrusion into what are supposed to be non-partisan, merit system personnel decisions.

The President's Management Agenda includes controversial policies and proposals such as aggressive use of outsourcing to replace civil servants, reliance on "faith-based initiatives" and rollbacks of civil service rights.

"It is outrageous that park superintendents must swear political loyalty to the Bush agenda and parrot hokey mottos in order to earn a promotion," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "The merit system is supposed to be about ability, not apple polishing."

The order applies to all hires for park superintendents, assistant superintendents and program managers, such as chief ranger or the head of interpretive or cultural programs. Overall, the policy applies to more than 1,000 mid-level management and supervisory positions in the Park Service.

"Presidents come and go but the civil service is designed to serve whoever occupies the swivel chair in the Oval Office," Ruch added. "It is downright creepy that now every museum curator, supervising scientist and chief ranger must be okayed by a high-level political appointee."

HOUSE WILL VOTE AS EARLY AS WEDNESDAY ON GUN LIABILITY EXEMPTION

The powerful gun lobby is aggressively seeking to pass legislation that will provide unprecedented blanket liability exemption for gun manufacturers and dealers. The gun lobby has pushed for a vote this week that will free them from all responsibility for deaths and injuries resulting from their products. The vote this week is the last chance to stop this reckless bill.

The House Leadership, receiving instructions from the gun lobby, has refused to consider the disastrous consequences of this legislation. Particularly outrageous is that, if this bill is passed, a dealer may no longer be held accountable for knowingly selling weapons to terrorist organizations or cop killers. This is disgraceful and demonstrates the lengths to which Republican House Leadership will go to keep the NRA and the gun lobby happy.

TAKE ACTION AT http://www.nocrony.com/gun_liability.htm

It is time to put the priorities of our nation's safety ahead of those of the gun manufacturers. We need your support today! The vote will be Wednesday.

17 October 2005

K, R, and W.....

As a friend pointed out to me today.... interestingly the two last hurricanes in a row were Katrina and Rita. Or more tellingly: KR. The next one forming is Wilma off the coast of Texas. Or: W.

So we have KR (Karl Rove) and W that are wreaking great harm upon the South Coast of the US.

Karma through natures hand strikes a mighty blow wouldn't you say.

16 October 2005

"greatest strategic disaster in United States history."

Lt. Gen William Odom, director of the National Security Agency during President Reagan's second term, a scholar with a distinguished career in military intelligence, declared Bush's invasion of Iraq to be the "greatest strategic disaster in United States history."

15 October 2005

the Miers spin....

It does not get any better than what the Bush spinsters are putting out about Miers this week.

1. In trying to manipulate impressions of Bush's nominee.... they wanted to up her ante. When her educational credentials were questioned, they responded that Ms. Miers had gone to the "second best law school in Texas". Not exactly a glowing reinforcement for the highest court in the land where she will be debating with the best legal minds in the country who typically graduated top of their class from the Ivy League.

2. Bush also described Miers mind in a way that he "would know exactly what she would be thinking in 20 years". First of all, what a tragedy that Ms. Miers mind would be not only so beholden to Bush that he "knows" her opinions before she would but it also precludes the evolution, education, and growth of her mind that would be of absolute necessity for a Supreme Court Justice.

Can we just get this woman to politely withdraw her nomination.

The saga of the continuing Bush photo-op

US President George W. Bush talks via a 'staged' video conference to carefully selected US National Guard troops. The questions President Bush asked were rehearsed and choreographed to match his goals for the war in Iraq and Saturday's vote on a new Iraqi constitution. The soldiers answers were given to them and pre-selected.
This is not a leader but a thinly guised media front for what is becoming increasingly clear to be a very carefully orchestrated ruse on the American people by a very small and self-interested few. Hopefully, the curtain is being pulled away and the man behind will finally be exposed and we can begin to reclaim our country.

14 October 2005

Global Energy Crisis - We Need Alternatives

Survivor's Guide to the Energy Crisis

Panic has set in. With the price of oil hovering at more than $60 a barrel on world markets and forecasters predicting that we will soon see oil selling for $100 a barrel or more as worldwide oil reserves dwindle, politicians and business leaders are running scared. The global economy is beginning to slow, and there is talk about a new and sustained long-term global recession - some economists are even talking about a global depression - that could last for decades.

We are quickly waking up to the fact that the whole world runs by oil. We are an oil civilization. We grow our food with the help of petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides. Our plastics, pharmaceutical products, and clothes are for the most part derived from oil. Our transport, power, heat, electricity, and light are all dependent on oil.

President Bush has half-heartedly called upon Americans to drive their automobiles less - more than half of the cars in the country are gas-guzzling SUVs - to save precious fuel. The White House has also asked federal employees to cut down on all but essential travel, to carpool, and to use public transportation. In addition, the president ordered White House thermostats to be turned to 72 degrees Fahrenheit to save energy.

Incredibly, at the same time Bush was proclaiming his newfound conversion to energy efficiency, the White House and Senate Republicans were working quietly behind the scenes to scuttle the only remaining six DOE regional energy efficiency field offices.

It appears that the president and his team do not understand the enormity of the energy crisis facing the United States and the world. The White House clearly needs guidance. The president should download the just published European Union Green Paper on Energy Efficiency (europa.eu.int/comm/energy/efficiency/index_en.htm). The paper lays out a detailed survivor's guide, a roadmap of what every individual, family, community, and country - including the United States - can do to cushion the cost shock of rising oil prices and dwindling supplies.

According to the report, the European member states alone could save at least 20 percent of their present energy consumption for a net savings of 60 billion euros per year, by enacting tough energy conservation programs across European society - in homes, commercial buildings, factories, and transport. The EU report says the United States could save far more with widespread adoption of energy conservation practices since the United States currently wastes approximately 50 percent more energy than the European Union to produce one unit of GDP.

The EU commission study says the average EU and American household could save as much as $1,200 per year in cost-saving energy efficient practices, thus offsetting much of the increased price of oil. The EU green paper is replete with detailed information on how to overhaul every aspect of our lives to achieve more energy-efficiency.

Proposals include incentives to purchase energy-efficient cars, reducing the national speed limit to 55 miles per hour, making alterations in homes and commercial buildings, like installing special insulation and storm windows, using long-lasting electric light bulbs, introducing software into appliances to save energy, renovating the nation's power grids to be more efficient, and other practices.

The White House, Congress, and the states will need to employ a range of strategies including taxation, public subsidies, economic incentives, and partnerships with industries, communities, and homeowners to make the transition to a truly energy-efficient society.

While government, industry, and consumers will have to spend some money up front to usher in literally thousands of energy efficient "best practices," the investment will boost the economy by creating millions of new jobs. Moreover, the cost savings of improved energy-efficiency will mean more money will be freed up to invest in other forms of sustainable economic development.

The United States should lead the way by declaring a state of "national urgency" and setting a goal of five years for fully executing the suggestions contained in the EU Commission's Green Paper on Energy Efficiency. After all, the United States consumes more than 25 percent of the fossil fuel energy used in the world, even though it has less than 5 percent of the global population. The United States is the world's leading energy-guzzler. Now, it should set an example and become the world's leading energy-saver.

The Worst President in History? New polling numbers

Bush and the Republicans, Badly Slumping in Polls

US President George W. Bush struggled in the face of worsening opinion polls, including one survey that for the first time found a plurality of Americans think he will be viewed as a failed leader. In a new study by the non-partisan Pew Research Center, 41 percent said that Bush would be an unsuccessful president whereas only 26 percent say he will be successful.

Bush's job approval rating slid to 38 percent, and showed the US public increasingly concerned about the war in Iraq.

Just days before Iraqi voters cast ballots on a constitution, 53 percent of respondents told Pew that the US effort there is not going well, while over half say the decision to go to war was wrong - up from 44 percent in September.

On Wednesday, a poll by NBC and The WSJ found that a plurality of Americans, 48 percent, said they would prefer the opposition Democrats to control Congress compared to 39 percent who want Bush's Republicans. The gap between the two parties was the largest ever recorded. The Republicans hold a majority in both houses of Congress and face mid-term elections in November 2006 amid growing public concern over the war in Iraq, the economy, and high gasoline prices.

The poll also showed Bush's overall approval ratings dropping to an all time low of 39 percent. Anxious about Bush's plunging poll numbers, Republicans in Congress have begun to break ranks and defied the White House on important issues.

The poll also revealed overwhelming opposition to Bush among blacks. Only two percent said they approved of his performance as president, the lowest level ever recorded for a sitting President.

Investigations and indictments of prominent Republican lawmakers also appear to pose a serious threat for Bush's party.

Sixty-five percent said charges against Representative Tom DeLay, who has temporarily stepped aside from his post as House of Representatives majority leader, suggested illegal activity.

A majority of 57 percent said an investigation into possible insider trading by the Republican majority leader in the Senate, Bill Frist, indicated wrongdoing.

Destroying careers, a Bush legacy.

The Fallen Legion: Casualties of the Bush Administration... By Nick Turse

In late August 2005, after twenty years of service in the field of military procurement, Bunnatine ("Bunny") Greenhouse, the top official at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in charge of awarding government contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq, was demoted. For years, Greenhouse received stellar evaluations from superiors - until she raised objections about secret, no-bid contracts awarded to Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) - a subsidiary of Halliburton, the mega-corporation Vice President Dick Cheney once presided over. After telling congress that one Halliburton deal was "was the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career," she was reassigned from "the elite Senior Executive Service... to a lesser job in the civil works division of the corps."

When Greenhouse was busted down, she became just another of the casualties of the Bush administration - not the countless (or rather uncounted) Iraqis, or the ever-growing list of American troops, killed, maimed, or mutilated in the administration's war of convenience- but the seemingly endless and ever-growing list of beleaguered administrators, managers, and career civil servants who quit their posts in protest or were defamed, threatened, fired, forced out, demoted, or driven to retire by Bush administration strong-arming.

Since almost the day he assumed power, George W. Bush has left a trail of broken careers in his wake. Below is a listing of but a handful of the most familiar names on the rolls of the fallen:

Richard Clarke: Perhaps the most well-known of the Bush administration's casualties, Clarke spent thirty years in the government, serving under every president since Ronald Reagan. He was the second-ranking intelligence officer in the State Department under Reagan and then served in the administration of George H.W. Bush. Under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, he held the position of the president's chief adviser on terrorism on the National Security Council - a Cabinet-level post. Clarke became disillusioned with the "terrible job" of fighting terrorism exhibited by the second president Bush - namely, ignoring evidence of an impending al-Qaeda attack and then putting the pressure on to produce a non-existent link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. (His memo explaining that there was no connection got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer. Do it again.'"). Demoted then quit, January 2003.

Paul O'Neill: A top official at the Office of Management and Budget under Presidents Nixon and Ford (and later chairman of aluminum-giant Alcoa), O'Neill served nearly two years in George W. Bush's cabinet as Secretary of the Treasury before being asked to resign after opposing the president's tax cuts. He, like Clarke, recalled Bush's Iraq fixation. "From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein needed to go," said O'Neill, a permanent member of the National Security Council. "It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying 'Go find me a way to do this.'" Fired, December 6, 2002.

Flynt Leverett, Ben Miller and Hillary Mann: A Senior Director for Middle East Affairs on President Bush's National Security Council (NSC), a CIA staffer and Iraq expert with the NSC, and a foreign service officer on detail to the NSC as the Director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs, respectively, they were all forced out by Elliott Abrams, Bush's NSC Advisor and a neo-con, when they disagreed with his policy toward Israel. Said Leverett, "There was a decision made to renege on the commitments we had made to various European and Arab partners of the United States. I personally disagreed with that decision." In addition, "Richard Clarke's critique of administration decision-making and how it did not balance the imperative of finishing the job against al Qaeda versus what they wanted to do in Iraq is absolutely on the money… We took the people out of Afghanistan in 2002 to begin preparing for the war in Iraq who could have caught al Qaeda leaders like Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri. According to Josef Bodansky, the director of the Congressional Task Force on Terror and Unconventional Warfare, Abrams "led Miller to an open window and told him to jump." He also stated that Mann and Leverett had been told to leave. Resigned/Fired, 2003.

Larry Lindsey: A "top economic adviser" to Bush who was ousted when he revealed to a newspaper that a war with Iraq could cost $200 billion. Fired, December 2002.

Ann Wright: A career diplomat in the Foreign Service and a colonel in the Army Reserves resigned on the day the U.S. launched the Iraq War. In her letter of resignation, Wright told then-Secretary of State Colin Powell: "I believe the Administration's policies are making the world a more dangerous, not a safer, place. I feel obligated morally and professionally to set out my very deep and firm concerns on these policies and to resign from government service as I cannot defend or implement them." Resigned, March 19, 2003.

John Brady Kiesling: A career diplomat who served four presidents over a twenty year span, he tendered his letter of resignation from his post as Political Counselor in the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece on the eve of the invasion of Iraq. He wrote:

"…until this Administration it had been possible to believe that by upholding the policies of my president I was also upholding the interests of the American people and the world. I believe it no longer. The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests. Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America's most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson. We have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective web of international relationships the world has ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger, not security."
Resigned, February 27, 2003.

John Brown: After nearly 25-years, this veteran of the Foreign Service, who served in London, Prague, Krakow, Kiev and Belgrade, resigned from his post. In his letter of resignation, he wrote: "I cannot in good conscience support President Bush's war plans against Iraq. The president has failed to: explain clearly why our brave men and women in uniform should be ready to sacrifice their lives in a war on Iraq at this time; to lay out the full ramifications of this war, including the extent of innocent civilian casualties; to specify the economic costs of the war for the ordinary Americans; to clarify how the war would help rid the world of terror; [and] to take international public opinion against the war into serious consideration." Resigned, March 10, 2003.

Rand Beers: When Beers, the National Security Council's senior director for combating terrorism, resigned he declined to comment, but one former intelligence official noted, "Hardly a surprise. We have sacrificed a war on terror for a war with Iraq. I don't blame Randy at all. This just reflects the widespread thought that the war on terror is being set aside for the war with Iraq at the expense of our military and intelligence resources and the relationships with our allies." Beers later admitted, "The administration wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism. They're making us less secure, not more secure… As an insider, I saw the things that weren't being done. And the longer I sat and watched, the more concerned I became, until I got up and walked out." Resigned, March 2003.

Gen. Anthony Zinni: A soldier and diplomat for 40 years, Zinni served from 1997 to 2000 as commander-in-chief of the United States Central Command in the Middle East. The retired Marine Corps general was then called back to service by the Bush administration to assume one of the highest diplomatic posts, special envoy to the Middle East (from November 2002 to March 2003), but his disagreement with Bush's plans to go to war and public comments that foretold of a a prolonged and problematical aftermath to such a war led to his ouster. "In the lead up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption," said Zinni. Failed to be reappointed, March 2003.

Gen. Eric Shinseki: after the Army's chief of staff, told Congress that the occupation of Iraq could require "several hundred thousand troops," he was derided by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz (a neo-con). Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld "took the unusual step of announcing that Gen. Eric Shinseki would be leaving when his term as Army chief of staff ended." Retired, June 2003.

Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski: A Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force who served in the Department of Defense's Near East and South Asia (NESA) Bureau in the year before the invasion of Iraq, she wrote in her letter of resignation:

"…while working from May 2002 through February 2003 in the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Near East South Asia and Special Plans (USDP/NESA and SP) in the Pentagon, I observed the environment in which decisions about post-war Iraq were made… What I saw was aberrant, pervasive and contrary to good order and discipline. If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of 'intelligence' found sanctity in a presidential speech, or why the post-Hussein occupation has been distinguished by confusion and false steps, one need look no further than the process inside the office of Mr. Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense."
Retired, July 2003.

Col. Charles "Jack" Pritchard: A retired U.S. Army colonel and a 28-year veteran of the military, the State Department, and the NSC, who served as the State Department's senior expert on North Korea and as the special envoy for negotiations with that country, resigned because the "administration's refusal to engage directly with the country made it almost impossible to stop Pyongyang from going ahead with its plans to build, test and deploy nuclear weapons." Resigned, August 2003.

Major John Carr and Major Robert Preston: Air Force prosecutors, they quit their posts in 2004 rather than take part in trials under the military commission system President Bush created in 2001 which they considered "rigged against alleged terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba." Requested and granted reassignment, 2004.

Captain Carrie Wolf: A U.S. Air Force officer, she asked to leave the Office of Military Commissions due to concerns that the Bush-created commissions for trying prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were unjust. Requested and granted reassignment, 2004.

Col. Douglas Macgregor: He retired from the U.S. Army and stated: "I love the army and I was sorry to leave it. But I saw no possibility of fundamentally positive reform and reorganization of the force for the current strategic environment or the future… It's a very sycophantic culture. The biggest problem we have inside the… Department of Defense at the senior level, but also within the officer corps - is that there are no arguments. Arguments are seen as a sign of dissent. Dissent equates to disloyalty." Retired, June 2004.

Paul Redmond: After a long career at the CIA, Redmond became the Assistant Secretary for Information Analysis at the DHS. When he reported at a congressional hearing in June 2003, "that he didn't have enough analysts to do the job… and his office still lacked the secure communications capability to receive classified reports from the intelligence community… that kind of candor was not appreciated by his bosses and, consequently, he had to go." Resigned, June 2003.

John W. Carlin: the "Archivist of the United States was pushed by the White House… to submit his resignation without being given any reason. It is suggested Bush may have wanted a new archivist to help keep his or his father's sensitive presidential records under wraps. Although he had stated his wish to serve until the end of his 10-year term, and 65th birthday in 2005, Carlin surrendered to Bush administration pressure. Resigned, December 19, 2003.

Susan Wood and Frank Davidoff: Wood was the Food and Drug Administration's Assistant Commissioner for Women's Health and Director of the Office of Women's Health; Davidoff was the editor emeritus of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine and an internal medicine specialist on the FDA's Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee. Wood resigned in protest over the FDA's decision to delay yet again, due to pressure from the Bush administration, a final ruling on whether the "morning-after pill" should be made more easily accessible - despite a 23-4 vote, back in December 2003, by a panel of experts to recommend non-prescription sale of the contraceptive, called Plan B. In an email to colleagues, Wood, the top FDA official in charge of women's health issues, wrote, "I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overruled." Days later, Davidoff quit over the same issue and wrote in his resignation letter, "I can no longer associate myself with an organization that is capable of making such an important decision so flagrantly on the basis of political influence, rather than the scientific and clinical evidence." Wood: Resigned, August 31, 2005. Davidoff: Resigned, September, 2005.

Thomas E. Novotny: A deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services and the chief official working on an international treaty to reduce cigarette smoking around the world. He had privately expressed frustration over the administration's decision to soften the U.S. positions on key issues, including restrictions on secondhand smoke and the advertising and marketing of cigarettes." Resigned, August 1, 2001.

Joanne Wilson: The commissioner of the Department of Education's Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), she quit, according to the Washington Post, "in protest of what she said were the administration's largely unnoticed efforts to gut the office's funding and staffing" and attempts to dismantle programs "critical to helping the blind, deaf and otherwise disabled find jobs." On February 7, 2005 the Bush administration announced that it would close all RSA regional offices and cut personnel in half. Quit, February 8, 2005.

James Zahn: a "nationally respected microbiologist with the Agriculture Department's research service" stated that "his supervisor at the USDA, under pressure from the hog industry, had ordered him not to publish his study," which "identified bacteria that can make people sick - and that are resistant to antibiotics - in the air surrounding industrial-style hog farms"; and that "he had been forced to cancel more than a dozen public appearances at local planning boards and county health commissions seeking information about health impacts of industry mega-farms." As a result, "Zahn resigned from the government in disgust." Resigned, May 2002.

Tony Oppegard and Jack Spadaro: Oppegard and Spadaro were members of a "team of federal geodesic engineers selected to investigate the collapse of barriers that held back a coal slurry pond in Kentucky containing toxic wastes from mountaintop strip-mining." According to the EPA, this had been "the greatest environmental catastrophe in the history of the Eastern United States." Oppegard, who the headed the team, "was fired on the day Bush was inaugurated… All eight members of the team except Spadaro signed off on a whitewashed investigation report. Spadaro, like the others, was harassed but flat-out refused to sign. In April of 2001 Spadaro resigned from the team and filed a complaint with the Inspector General of the Labor Department… he was placed on administrative leave-a prelude to getting fired." Two months before his 28th anniversary as a federal employee, and after years of harassment due to his stance, Spadaro resigned. "I'm just very tired of fighting," he said. "I've been fighting this administration since early 2001. I want a little peace." Oppegrad: Fired, January 20, 2001. Spaddaro: Resigned, October 1, 2003.

Teresa Chambers: After speaking with reporters and congressional staffers about budget problems in her organization, the U.S. Park Police Chief was placed on administrative leave. Then, according to CNN, just "two and half hours after her attorneys filed a demand for immediate reinstatement through the Merit Systems Protection Board, an independent agency that ensures federal employees are protected from management abuses," Chambers was fired. "The American people should be afraid of this kind of silencing of professionals in any field," said Chambers. "We should be very concerned as American citizens that people who are experts in their field either can't speak up, or, as we're seeing now in the parks service, won't speak up." Fired, July 2004.

Martha Hahn: The state director for the Bureau of Land Management, "responsible for 12 million acres in Idaho, almost one-quarter of the state" for seven years, Hahn found her authority drastically curtailed after the Bush administration took office. She watched as the administration blocked public comment on mining initiatives and opened up previously protected areas to environmental degradation. After she locked horns with cattle interests over grazing rights, she received a letter stating she was being transferred from her beloved Rocky Mountain West to "a previously nonexistent job in New York City." "It's been a shock," she said. "I'm going through mental anguish right now. I felt like I was at the prime of my career." Hahn was told to accept the involuntary reassignment or resign. Resigned, March 6, 2002.

Andrew Eller: spent many of his 17 years with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protecting the Florida panther. But when his research didn't jibe with a huge airport project slated for the cat's habitat - and Eller refused to play along-he was given the boot. "I was fired three days after President Bush was re-elected," said Eller. "It was obviously reprisal for holding different views on whether or not the panther was in jeopardy, and pointing out that they were using flawed science to support their view." Fired, November 2004.

Mike Dombeck: The chief of the Forest Service resigned after a 23-year government career. In his resignation letter, the pro-conservation Dombeck stated, "It was made clear in no uncertain terms that the [Bush] administration wants to take the Forest Service in another direction ...." Resigned, March 27, 2001.

James Furnish: A political conservative, evangelical Christian, and Republican who voted for George W. Bush in 2000 as well as the former Deputy Chief of the U.S. Forest Service (who spent 30 years, across 8 presidential administrations working for that agency), Furnish resigned in 2002 due to policy differences with the Bush administration. "I just viewed the administration's actions as being regressive," said Furnish. In acting according to his conscience, instead of waiting a year longer to maximize retirement benefits, Furnish lost out on about $10,000 a year for the rest of his life. Resigned, 2002.

Mike Parker: In early 2002, Parker, the director of the Army Corps of Engineers testified before Congress that Bush-mandated budget cuts would have a "negative impact" on the Corps. He also admitted to holding no "warm and fuzzy" feelings toward the Bush administration. Soon after, he was given 30 minutes to resign or be fired. In the wake of the devastation caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Parker's clashes with Mitch Daniels, former director of the Office of Management and Budget, can be seen as prophetic. Parker remembered one such incident in which he brought Daniels, the Bush administration's budget guru, a piece of steel from a Mississippi canal lock that "was completely corroded and falling apart because of a lack of funding," and said, "Mitch, it doesn't matter if a terrorist blows the lock up or if it falls down because it disintegrates - either way it's the same effect, and if we let it fall down, we have only ourselves to blame." He recalled of the incident, "It made no impact on him whatsoever." Resigned, March 6, 2002.

Sylvia K. Lowrance: A top EPA official who served the agency for over 20 years, including as Assistant Administrator of its Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance for the first 18 months of the Bush administration, Lowrance retired, stating, "We will see more resignations in the future as the administration fails to enforce environmental laws." she said, "This Administration has pulled cases and put investigations on ice. They sent every signal they can to staff to back off." Retired, August 2002.

Bruce Boler: An EPA scientist who resigned from his post because, he said, "Wetlands are often referred to as nature's kidneys. Most self-respecting scientists will tell you that, and yet [private] developers and officials [at the Army Corps of Engineers] wanted me to support their position that wetlands are, literally, a pollution source." Resigned, October 23, 2003.

Eric Schaeffer: After twelve years of service, including the last five as Director of the Office of Regulatory Enforcement, at the EPA, Schaeffer submitted a letter of resignation over the Bush administration's non-enforcement of the Clean Air Act. He later explained:

"In a matter of weeks, the Bush administration was able to undo the environmental progress we had worked years to secure. Millions of tons of unnecessary pollution continue to pour from these power plants each year as a result. Adding insult to injury, the White House sought to slash the EPA's enforcement budget, making it harder for us to pursue cases we'd already launched against other polluters that had run afoul of the law, from auto manufacturers to refineries, large industrial hog feedlots, and paper companies. It became clear that Bush had little regard for the environment-and even less for enforcing the laws that protect it. So last spring, after 12 years at the agency, I resigned, stating my reasons in a very public letter to Administrator [Christine Todd] Whitman."
Resigned, February 27, 2002.

Bruce Buckheit: A 30-year veteran of government service, Buckheit retired in frustration over Bush administration efforts to weaken environmental regulations. When asked by NBC reporter Stone Phillips, "What's the biggest enforcement challenge right now when it comes to air pollution?," the former Senior Counsel with the Environmental Enforcement Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, and then Director of EPA's Air Enforcement Division, was unequivocal: "The Bush Administration." He went on to note that "this administration has decided to put the economic interests of the coal fired power plants ahead of the public interests in reducing air pollution." Resigned, November 2003.

Rich Biondi: A 32-year EPA employee, Biondi retired from his post as Associate Director of the Air Enforcement Division of the EPA. He stated, "We weren't given the latitude we had been, and the Bush administration was interfering more and more with the ability to get the job done." Retired, December 2004.

Martin E. Sullivan, Richard S. Lanier and Gary Vikan: Three members of Bush's Cultural Property Advisory Committee, they all resigned from their posts to protest the looting of Baghdad's National Museum of Antiquities. In his letter of resignation, Sullivan, the Committee's chairman, wrote, "The tragedy was not prevented, due to our nation's inaction," while Lanier castigated "the administration's total lack of sensitivity and forethought regarding the Iraq invasion and the loss of cultural treasures." Resigned, April 14, 2003.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, eyes began to focus on the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the political appointees running it. What had happened to the professionals who once staffed FEMA? In 2004, Pleasant Mann, a 17-year FEMA veteran who heads the agency's government employee union told Indyweek:

"Since last year, so many people have left who had developed most of our basic programs. A lot of the institutional knowledge is gone. Everyone who was able to retire has left, and then a lot of people have moved to other agencies."

Disillusionment with the current state of affairs at FEMA was cited as the major cause for the mass defections. In fact, a February 2004 survey by the American Federation of Government Employees found that 80% of a sample of remaining employees said FEMA had become "a much poorer agency" since being shifted into the Bush-created Department of Homeland Security. What happened to FEMA has happened, in ways large and small, to many other federal agencies. In an article by Amanda Griscom in Grist magazine, Jeff Ruch, the executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, made reference to the "unusually high" rate of replacement of scientists in government agencies during the Bush administration. "If the scientist gives the inconvenient answer they commit career suicide," he said.

However defined, the casualties of the Bush administration are legion. The numbers of government careers wrecked, disrupted, adversely affected, or tossed into turmoil as a result of this administration's wars, budgets, policies, and programs is impossible to determine. Although every administration leaves bodies strewn in its wake, none in recent memory has come close to the Bush administration in producing so many public statements of resignation, dissatisfaction, or anger over treatment or policies. The aforementioned list of casualties includes among the best known of those who have resigned or left the administration under pressure (although not necessarily those who have suffered most from their acts). Perhaps no one knows exactly how many government workers, at all levels, have fallen in the face of the Bush administration. Those mentioned above are just a few of the highest profile members of this as yet uncounted legion, just a few of the names we know.

NOTE: If you know of others, or are one of the "fallen legion" yourself, please send the information (and whatever supporting material you would care to supply) to fallenlegionwall@yahoo.com with the subject heading: "fallen legion" to add another name to the "wall." This is a subject TomDispatch would like to return to in the future.

Nick Turse works in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia University and as the Associate Editor and Research Director at TomDispatch.com. He writes for the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Village Voice, and regularly for Tomdispatch on the military-corporate complex, the homeland security state, and various other topics.

Ohioans: Vote YES on Issues 2, 3, 4, and 5.

You Can Help Restore Confidence in Ohio's Democracy: YES on Issues 2, 3, 4, and 5!


As we count down to Election Day, November 8th, activity is underway in every corner of Ohio to restore trust, confidence, and faith in government by passing the Reform Ohio Now Issues 2, 3, 4, and 5!

It is so important that you help pass Issues 2, 3, 4, and 5 on November 8th! We must amend the state constitution to make our election system fairer so that legislators don't manipulate voting for their political gain.

Issue 2: Makes it easier to vote by allowing all Ohioans to vote by mail (many states already have mail balloting in place).
Issue 3: Helps stop the influence of big money in elections by greatly reducing campaign contributions.
Issue 4: Stops the politicians from drawing their own legislative districts and puts an independent commission in charge of this process.
Issue 5: Places a bi-partisan board of supervisors in charge of Ohio's elections, instead of a partisan official who backs candidates and takes sides in elections. Just remember the shenanigans that Kenneth Blackwell tried to pull in 2004 to manipulate the elections.

--Your Allies at People For the American Way

13 October 2005

Bush Administration ignored pre-war assessments

Report Says White House Ignored CIA on Iraq Chaos... By Douglas Jehl

A review by former intelligence officers has concluded that the Bush administration "apparently paid little or no attention" to prewar assessments by the Central Intelligence Agency that warned of major cultural and political obstacles to stability in postwar Iraq.

The report appeared publicly for the first time this week in Studies in Intelligence, a quarterly journal. The journal is published by the Center for the Study of Intelligence, which is part of the C.I.A. but operates independently.

The review was conducted by a team led by Richard J. Kerr, a former deputy director of central intelligence. It acknowledged the deep failures in the agency's prewar assessments of Iraq's weapons programs but said "the analysis was right" on cultural and political issues related to postwar Iraq.

Two classified reports prepared for President Bush in January 2003 had predicted that an American-led invasion of Iraq would increase support for political Islam and would result in a deeply divided Iraqi society prone to violent internal conflict.

Those reports were by the National Intelligence Council, the highlevel group responsible for producing the government's most authoritative intelligence assessments.

Since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies have been notably more gloomy than the White House and the Pentagon about prospects for stability in Iraq. In the summer of 2004, newspaper articles about those reports so angered some Republicans that they accused the agency of trying to undermine President Bush.

The Senate Intelligence Committee was to have addressed the issue as part of a second phase of its inquiry that began with a study of the intelligence on Iraq's weapons program. But the Republican-led committee has shown no sign of producing a report.

The review was one of three conducted by Mr. Kerr and his team, but it is the only one that was unclassified. It described as "seriously flawed, misleading and even wrong" most of the conclusions reached by the C.I.A. before the invasion of Iraq about President Saddam Hussein's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs.

But Mr. Kerr offered praise for prewar intelligence reports on issues other than Iraq's weapons programs, saying that they "accurately addressed such topics as how the war would develop and how Iraqi forces would or would not fight."

Mr. Kerr also praised what he called perceptive analysis by intelligence agencies on the issue of ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda, a subject on which the agency clashed with the White House by concluding that there were no substantive links.

Mr. Kerr said the agency had also accurately "calculated the impact of the war on oil markets" and "accurately forecast the reactions of the ethnic and tribal factions in Iraq."

Frist in the corruption chain of events.

And then there was Frist..... he was just issued a subpoena by the SEC for his alleged insider trading. As his spin has been that he did nothing wrong since it was a blind trust, it has come to light that the trust was not so blind but controlled by none other than his brother. Too bad the same cell that they locked away Martha could not be reserved for him..... but, alas, maybe he will get a nice roommate by the name of Bruno.

Outrage!

Why is it that all the Republicans appear to be able to sink their teeth into these days are issues of Gay rights and marriage (why do they care about this), abortion rights, and cover-ups. Meanwhile their cronies are getting richer and richer by the minute on the blood and despair of the average American. Where is our outrage? Where is our true morality? Who have we become?

Our Constitution disgraced......

More eyewitnesses to U.S. torture of detainees pierce the Bush administration's cover-up

The outlook of Richard Nixon was that he was above the law. Watergate disabused him of the notion. The position of George W. Bush is that he is a law unto himself. - Lincoln Caplan, editor of Legal Affairs (Yale Law School), September 2005

Have we ever had a situation like this, where presumably this warlike status could last for 25 years, 50 years, whatever it is? - Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, during oral arguments, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 2004

The torture of detainees was so widespread and accepted that it became a means of stress relief for soldiers. Soldiers said they felt welcome to come to the PUC [Person Under Control] tent on their off hours to 'Fuck a PUC' or 'Smoke a PUC.' 'Fucking a PUC' referred to beating a detainee, while 'Smoking a PUC' referred to forced physical exertion sometimes to the point of unconsciousness. - "Leadership Failure: Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division," Human Rights Watch, September 2005


Since 9-11, the steadily increasing dislocation of our system of government—most vividly demonstrated by the Bush administration's systematic abuses of detainees (a/k/a prisoners), including torture. But despite the huge amount of documented evidence, only low-level soldiers have been disciplined. The top of the chain of command—Bush, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, et al.—is untouched by the Defense Department's "investigations" of itself.

During the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, there was a continuing, fractious debate on how to prevent one branch of government (the executive) from overpowering the other (the legislative). The Supreme Court had yet to realize its full identity until John Marshall became chief justice in 1801. (Earlier, Alexander Hamilton erroneously called it "the least dangerous branch.")

In 1866, Lincoln, dead by then, was sternly rebuked by the Supreme Court (Ex Parte Milligan) for the unconstitutional powers he had taken during the Civil War. Said the Court:

"The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances." (Emphasis added.)

But George W. Bush, as commander in chief, ignores that ruling in the forbidding name of national security as he keeps declaring that this nation is an example to the world—of freedom and the moral values of a constitutional democracy.

As National Public Radio's excellent national security correspondent Jackie Northam said during her September 25 report on this Human Rights Watch exposé: "There's just too many reports like this from captains, sergeants, officers, non-commissioned officers, that we can't keep ignoring it."

I have large files of such reports from Amnesty International, Human Rights First, the Center for Constitutional Rights, The New England Journal of Medicine (about military doctors' complicity in these often savage abuses of prisoners), and New York University law school's Center on Law and Security. But with Republican control of Congress (including the evisceration of the Fourth Amendment at home), all the protectors of the Constitution can do is keep hanging on.

From the Human Rights Watch report: "Residents of Fallujah called them 'the Murderous Maniacs' because of how they treated Iraqis in detention. They were soldiers of the U.S. Army's 82 nd Airborne Division . . . stationed at Forward Operating Base Mercury in Iraq. The soldiers considered this [description of them] a badge of honor."

The report discloses that two non-commissioned officers and a captain, Ian Fishback, in multiple interviews with Human Rights Watch investigators, say that "torture of detainees took place almost daily . . . from September 2003 to April 2004. . . . The acts of torture and other cruel or inhuman treatment . . . include severe beatings (in one incident, a soldier reportedly broke a detainee's leg with a baseball bat); the application of chemical substances to exposed skin and eyes; forced stress positions . . . sometimes to the point of unconsciousness; sleep deprivation [for days on end]; the stacking of detainees into human pyramids; and, the withholding of food and water."

For 17 months, Captain Fishback raised his concerns within the army chain of command, and the army agreed to conduct an investigation "only after he had contacted members of Congress [including Senator John McCain] and considered going public with the story." Days before the Human Rights Watch report was released, the captain was told he couldn't leave the base to meet with members of McCain's staff "without approval and that approval was being denied because his commanding officer felt [he] was being naive and would do irreparable harm to his career."

The captain, however, refuses to be muzzled.