Saturday, July 10, 2004

A Warning on "Curve Ball" Dismissed 

from War and Piece, July 10, 2004:

by Laura Rozen

... A few days before Secretary of State Colin L. Powell gave his 2003 presentation to the U.N. Security Council on Iraq's purported weapons of mass destruction -- with its startling allegation that four individuals had confirmed that Iraq had mobile biological weapons laboratories -- a government analyst who had read a draft of the speech sent an urgent e-mail to his boss.

All those sources are suspect or unreliable, especially the key one nicknamed "Curve Ball," warned the analyst, the only U.S. intelligence official who had met Curve Ball.

The analyst received a dismissive reply. "This war's going to happen regardless of what Curve Ball said or didn't say, and . . . the Powers That Be probably aren't terribly interested in whether Curve Ball knows what he's talking about," replied the deputy chief of the CIA's Iraq task force. The warning was never passed on to Powell or his top aides. ...

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Footnote: Intel Committee Didn't Investigate Source of Fake Niger Docs 

Talking Points Memo, July 10:

... You'll note that the footnote at the bottom of page 57 (of the Senate Intelligence Committee report) says that in March 2003 Sen.Rockefeller asked the FBI to investigate the source of the forged uranium documents and the motivation of those responsible for them. Because of that investigation, the Committee chose not to examine any questions about the documents themselves, who forged them, where they came from, etc. In fact, the Committee walled its investigation off so that it looked only at what happened with the documents after they appeared in the US Embassy in Rome in October 2002. ...

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Double-Teamed: White House and Washington Post Conspire to Get Wilson 

One Certainty: Plame's Name Is No Longer a Secret

A misleading and slanted story in today's Washington Post faults former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV for his criticism of the Bush administration's claim that Iraq tried to purchase uranium from Niger.

An estimated 20 percent of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report was censored by the Bush administration for national security reasons before it was made public.

Election year politics also played a part in the committee's investigation. The committee's Republican majority delayed the investigation of the Bush administration's role in doctoring the intelligence until after November's presidential election.

The limited focus allowed the committee to blame the intelligence failure mainly on the CIA instead of directly on the lies of the Bush administration.

But even with this attempt at a cover up -- the onus still falls squarely on the Bush administration.

The Washington Post, however, seized on one facet of the report that wasn't censored to discredit Wilson. Citing alleged contradictions in his version of events, Republican staffers on the committee drew Wilson's veracity into question on minor details, which the Post then blew out of proportion.

One of the details is whether Wilson's wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame, recommended that the agency send him to Niger in 2002 to determine the validity of claims that Iraq attempted to procure uranium from the African nation.

Wilson says he found no evidence that Iraq attempted to purchase uranium and also claims his wife didn't recommend him for the job.

Last year, President George W. Bush used the alleged Iraq-Niger connection in his State of the Union address to bolster the case that Saddam Hussein's regime was hell bent on building nuclear weapons and, therefore, the U.S. needed to invade Iraq immediately.

After Wilson publicly disputed Bush's claim, his wife's identity as a CIA agent was leaked to conservative newspaper columnist Robert Novak by a Bush administration official. Novak published Plame's name last July.

Leaking the name of a CIA agent is a federal felony.

In October Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the case and appointed a special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago. This forced the president to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent him. Fitzgerald interviewed Bush a couple weeks ago for more than a hour.

It's obvious even to an outsider that the Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee slammed Wilson's credibility in an effort to derail the special prosecutor's case. And it's just as obvious that the story, which was virtually planted in the Washington Post today, was part of the Republcans strategy to defend the president during an election year.

Nothing in the report says that there is any newly uncovered evidence that Iraq procured uranium from Niger or even came close to it.

How could Washington Post reporter Susan Schmidt fall for the Senate Republican's efforts to shield the president?

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When Bush Opens His Mouth, He Lies 

We now have two bi-partisan investigations that have concluded the same thing: The Bush administration's reasons for going to war were bogus. Both the 9/11 Commission and the Senate Intelligence Committee are now on the record. There were no weapons of mass destruction or close ties between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. In fact, the ties between George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden are most likely closer than those of the former Iraqi dictator. In the late 1970s, Bush's business associate James R. Bath, a self-professed CIA asset, worked for the bin Laden family.

The New York Times, July 10:

The (Senate Intelligence Committee) report was heavily censored by the administration and is too narrowly focused on the bungling of just the Central Intelligence Agency. But what comes through is thoroughly damning. Put simply, the Bush administration's intelligence analysts cooked the books to give Congress and the public the impression that Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons and was developing nuclear arms, that he was plotting to give such weapons to terrorists, and that he was an imminent threat. ...

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Senate Intel Committee: Bush Dead Wrong on WMD 

Guardian, July 10:

The principal claims justifying the invasion of Iraq - that Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons and was developing nuclear weapons - were fundamentally wrong and the result of a "global intelligence failure", a Senate investigation concluded yesterday.

"We went into Iraq based on false claims," said Senator Jay Rockefeller, one of the authors of yesterday's report on the debacle, said. He added that he now regretted his vote in October 2002 to support the war.

"The fact is that the administration, at all levels ... used bad information to bolster its case for war, and we in Congress would not have authorised that war ... if we knew what we know now," Mr Rockefeller said. ...

Meanwhile, Bush continues to lie about why he ordered the invasion, according to a CNN report:

President Bush has defended his decision to go to war following the release of a report criticizing the intelligence used to justify invading Iraq.

A U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report released on Friday blasted the CIA's prewar estimates of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction as overstated and unsupported. (Full story)

Bush said the United States was "right to go into Iraq. America is safer today because we did," he told a cheering crowdof supporters in Pennsylvania.

"We removed a declared enemy of America, who had the capability of producing weapons of mass destruction, and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them. ...

Exactly what are these idiots cheering about? Not even the Senate Republicans believe Bush's lies any longer.

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The Russian Newspaper Murders 

Wide Angle, a BBC-PBS news program, examined the systematic assassinations of Russian journalists earlier this week in a broadcast entitled, "The Russian Newspaer Murders."

Contrary to the hopes of the Russian public, life in the former Soviet Union hasn't improved since the collapse of communism more than a decade ago.

The Russian Newspaper Murders will be rebroadcast on KETC Channel 9, the PBS affiliate in St. Louis, on at 1.30 a.m. tomorrow morning (Sunday) and July 15 at 9:00 p.m. Set your VCRs.

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Reporters Frequent Targets in Russia 

Associated Press, July 10:

... he killing was only the latest targeting a journalist in Russia. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said more than a dozen journalists have been killed in Russia since President Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000 - and none have been brought to justice.

"This shameful record of impunity is one of reasons these murders continue to happen," Executive Director Ann Cooper said in comments posted on the group's Web site. "It sends a chilling message to Russian journalists and a terrible message to the rest of the world about the Kremlin's indifference to press freedom." ...

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Forbes Editor Assassinated in Russia 

Paul Klebnikov, who was the first editor of Forbes' Russian edition, was assassinated yesterday. His murder followed the publication in the business magazine of a list of Russia's most powerful business tycoons.

Steve Forbes, President and Editor-In-Chief, sent this statement to all who work at Forbes:

It is with the deepest sadness that I inform you that Paul Klebnikov, 41, editor of Forbes Russia, was murdered in Moscow this evening. He was reportedly shot four times as he left work and died shortly thereafter.

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Cheney's Nigerian Scandal Remains Under-Reported in U.S. 

The story of the French judicial inquiry into Halliburton's alleged bribery of Nigerian officials has been building since late last year.

The Houston-based oil services company is being investigated over an alleged $180 million slush fund, which was active between 1995 and 2000 -- when U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was Halliburton's CEO. Some of that money is also thought to have wound up in the pockets of Halliburton executives.

On Dec. 29, 2003, Doug Ireland of the Nation reported on the French probe:

"... The suspected bribe money was mostly ladled out between 1995 and 2000, when Cheney was Halliburton's CEO. The Journal du Dimanche reported on December 21 that "it is probable that some of the 'retrocommissions' found their way back to the United States" and asked, did this money go "to Halliburton's officials? To officials of the Republican Party?" These questions have so far gone unasked by America's media, which have completely ignored the explosive Le Figaro headline revealing the targeting of Cheney. It will be interesting to see if the US press looks seriously into this ticking time-bomb of a scandal before the November elections. ..."

Writing for the same magazine, Ireland followed up on June 18 with another installment. In his most recent reporting on the subject, he notes that Halliburton used the hoopla over Reagan's funeral to help cover up:

"... The energy conglomerate formerly headed by Dick Cheney disclosed the SEC probe (as it was required to do by law for any legal action potentially affecting the company's stock) on June 11. The timing of the disclosure was no accident--it was a Friday, the last day of the interminable Reagan funeral ceremonies, and Wall Street was thus closed. The national press corps focused on little else but the burial, so the SEC investigation got scant attention in the weekend papers (even the New York Times ran only a brief AP dispatch on its website). ..."

Although it has received scant attention in the American press, famed French jurist Renaud Van Ruymbeke's inquiry into the bribery scheme has been making headlines in Paris for months. The French probe, in turn, alerted the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission, which has initiated its own investigation into the allegations.

Besides the alleged bribing Nigerian officials, a former top executive of Halliburton subsidiary Kellog Brown and Root has been implicated. Then-KBR President Albert "Jack" Stanley is alleged to have received $5 million in kickbacks. Halliburton cut its ties to Stanley last month shortly after making its public disclosure of the SEC probe.

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French Judge May Indict Cheney; White House Counsel Weighs Dumping VP 

Capitol Blue reports on the fire behind all the smoke that's coming out Vice President Dick Cheney's ass. The reason why Cheney told Sen. Patrick Leahy to "go fuck yourself" and calls by Republicans for him to remove himself from the ticket are one and the same:

Vice President Dick Cheney faces criminal indictments for illegal activities while CEO of energy giant Halliburton and also illegally intervened to secure a $7 billion no-bid contract for his former employer after his election to office, an analysis by the White House counsel’s office concludes.

The Vice President is currently under investigation by French authorities for bribery, money laundering and misuse of corporate assets while at Halliburton and also faces a U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission probe of a $180 million "slush fund" that may have been used to pay bribes.

Although the White House Counsel analysis is not available to the public because of the secrecy of “attorney-client privilege,” it has generated speculation among senior White House aides who suggest the Vice President should step down as President George W. Bush’s running mate for the November Presidential elections. Such talk has increased in GOP circles lately with former New York Senator Alfonse D'Amato Wednesday calling on Bush to dump Cheney. ...

On June 13, Media Mayhem reported on the developing Nigerian scandal at Halliburton. The account is based on a New York Times story:

Halliburton yesterday severed ties to two top consultants who have stolen millions of dollars as a part of a far-flung scam that included companies from the U.S., Europe and Japan. Some of the alleged fraud took place when Vice President Dick Cheney headed the company, the New York Times reports.

Halliburton consultants Albert J. Stanely and William Chaudan until recently were high-ranking executives at the Houston-based oil services company. Stanley is suspected of channeling as much as $5 million for his personal benefit. But the total amount of the fraud is over $180 million dollars.

At issue is corruption associated with Halliburton's Nigerian natural gas project. Halliburton led a consortium of international companies involved in the project.

The case is currently being investigated by the Justice Department, but no charges have been filed. France, however, is conducting a more aggressive inquiry into the scandal.
The French company, Technip, had partnered with Halliburton in the project.

Halliburton CEO David Lesar has label the allegations of massive fraud "a political attack."
The company has also cut its ties with Tri-Star Investments, a Gibraltar-based company controlled by British barrister Jeffrey Tesler. Tesler and Chaudan are longstanding business associates.
Chaudan and Stanley were both formerly executives for Kellogg Brown & Root, an engineering subsidiary of Halliburton. KBR is currently under investigation for overcharges related to its wartime contracts doled out by the Bush administration.

M.K. Kellogg Company became part of the elaborate payment schemes in the mid 1990s, according to the Times. The graft continued after Halliburton bought out Kellogg's parent company, Dresser Industries, in 1998 and merged it with Brown & Root. The payments are alleged to have been made between 1995 and 2002.
All the companies are tied to the Texas oil industry. President George W. Bush's grandfather, Preston Bush, had ties to Dresser. Vice President Dick Cheney headed Halliburton until 2000. George and Herman Brown of Houston founded Brown & Root in the World War II era.

According to the French investigation, a Portuguese consortium called TSKJ, formed and coordinated by KBR, carried out the work for the Nigerian project. The consortium was comprised of Technip, Eni of Italy and JGC Corp. of Japan.

Last year, Halliburton admitted to the Security and Exchange Commission that it had engaged in a series of questionable activities in Nigeria involving $2.4 million in pay offs to Nigerian officials to dodge taxes.

The Nigerian project involved freezing natural gas for shipment to southern Europe and Turkey.

[read more]

Friday, July 09, 2004

US News Obtains Classified Taguba Report Documents 

U.S. News and World Reports has obtained previously unreleased classified documents from the Taguba Report, which provide details on conditions at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The magazine released a press release containing a summary of some of the contents of the classified documents late Friday. To read the full press release click on the link at the bottom of this posting.

The most comprehensive view yet of what went wrong at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, based on a review of all 106 classified annexes to the report of Major General Antonio Taguba, shows abuses were facilitated--and likely encouraged--by a chaotic and dangerous environment made worse by constant pressure from Washington to squeeze intelligence from detainees.

Daily life at Abu Ghraib, the documents show, included riots, prisoner escapes, shootings, corrupt Iraqi guards, filthy conditions, sexual misbehavior, bug-infested food, prisoner beatings and humiliations, and almost-daily mortar shellings from Iraqi insurgents. Troubles inside the prison were made worse still by a military command structure that was hopelessly broken. ...

Among the more shocking exchanges revealed in the Taguba classified annexes are a series of E-mails sent by Major David Dinenna of the 320th MP Battalion. The E-mails, sent in October and November to Major William Green of the 800th MP Brigade, and copied to the higher chain of command, show a quixotic attempt to simply get the detainees at Abu Graib edible food. Dinenna pressed repeatedly for food that wouldn?t make prisoners vomit. He criticized the private food contractor for shorting the facility on hundreds of meals a day, and for providing food containing bugs, rats, and dirt.

"As each day goes by tension within the prison population increases," Dinenna wrote. "...Simple fixes, food, would help tremendously." Instead of getting help, Major Green scolded him. "Who is making the charges that there is dirt, bugs or what ever in the food?," Major Green replied in an E-mail. "If it is the prisoners I would take it with a grain of salt." Dinenna shot back: "Our MPs, Medics and field surgeon can easily identify bugs, rats, and dirt, and they did." Ultimately, the food contract was not renewed, an Army spokeswoman says, although the contractor holds other contracts with the military. ...

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Did the Mossad Eavesdrop on Bill and Monica Through a Chesterfield-Based Co.? 

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch never reported one word on this. The Chesterfield-based, Israeli-owned company Amdocs is headed by Dov Baharav. Internet rumors, fueled by Lyndon LaRouche's conspiracy-obsessed followers, have dogged Amdocs. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Boston Indy Media and D.C. Indy Media sites have also speculated on Amdocs' doings.

The New York Times May 6, 2000:

Israeli Spy Inquiry Finds Nothing, Officials Say

by David Johnston

The federal authorities conducted a highly classified espionage investigation into whether Israeli intelligence agents used a software company in Missouri to intercept telephone conversations from the White House, State Department and other agencies, government officials said today.

The counterintelligence inquiry did not find evidence that government telephone systems were penetrated, the officials said. The investigation focused on the Amdocs Corporation, a publicly traded corporation founded by Israelis, but failed to unearth evidence that anyone at the company or connected to it had tried to listen to government communications illegally, the officials said.

"There's just weren't any facts to support a penetration," said a government official who closely followed the inquiry.

The existence of the inquiry emerged today after Insight Magazine, which is published by the Washington Times, reported that the investigation had uncovered a security breach in the White House telephone system. Other news organizations quickly spread the story over their Web sites, but the accusation of a major espionage problem collapsed almost immediately.

White House officials denied the account, and their comments were immediately followed by denials from representatives of other intelligence, national security and law enforcement agencies. These officials confirmed that an inquiry had been carried out, but said that it had led nowhere and was currently inactive, although as one official put it, "You can never say never in these things."

Israeli officials also denied that the Israeli government had intercepted phone conversations of American officials. A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy was quoted by The Associated Press as saying, "I don't listen even to the phone conversations of my wife."

"Israel does not spy on the United States," the spokesman said

Dan Ginsburg, a spokesman for Amdocs, said tonight that the company was unaware of any F.B.I. investigation "until we heard about it from reporters last evening."

"Beyond that," Mr. Ginsburg said, "we'd welcome the opportunity to work with any investigators or any investigation from any kind. We have not been contacted by the F.B.I. or any other government agency."

The investigation began several years ago as an offshoot from another inquiry at the State Department. That inquiry prompted law enforcement and intelligence officials to suspect that Israeli spies might be capable of using technology that was so sophisticated that they could overhear conversations of specific American officials in their offices.

The investigation shifted to the White House in September 1998 when Kenneth W. Starr, the Whitewater independent counsel, reported in his impeachment referral to Congress that the Israelis might have listened to amorous conversations between President Clinton and Monica S. Lewinsky. The White House and the Israelis dismissed the reports.

The accusations resurfaced in March 1999. Gordon Thomas wrote in a book about the Israeli intelligence service, "Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad," that the Israelis had eavesdropped on hours of intimate phone calls between Mr. Clinton and Ms. Lewinsky.

The book said the Israeli secret service "pondered how to use the highly embarrassing taped conversations; they were the stuff of blackmail, though no one suggested any attempt should be made to blackmail the president of the United States."

White House officials again denied the account.

In using office telephones, top officials conduct conversations over unsecured phones, which can be tapped by outsiders, and secure phones that use sophisticated electronic scrambling techniques to deter eavesdropping. Most conversations are held over open phones, which were the ones that the authorities feared might have been compromised.

Amdocs is the world's largest telecommunications billing services company, providing software that allows phone companies to prepare bills for millions of customers.

With $600 million in revenues in 1999, the company has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 1998. Its clients include Bell Atlantic, BellSouth, Sprint and Vodafone AirTouch.

The company operates in 20 countries, and its research and development operation is based in Israel.

Amdocs provides billing software to Bell Atlantic, which provides the phone systems to government buildings, including the White House and the State Department.

Mr. Ginsburg said he doubted that the company even had the technological capability to eavesdrop, in real time, to phone conversations of it clients' subscribers.

NYT Reports on Chalabi's BS -- After Thousands Have Died 

After indirectly acknowledging that one of it star reporters, Judity Miller, had reported the Bush administration's lies as fact, The New York Times, is finally getting around to reporting what really happened.

The New York Times, July 9:

Defectors' Reports on Iraq Arms Were Embellished, Exile Asserts
By Jim Dwyer

Shortly after President Bush declared war on terrorism in the fall of 2001, the Iraqi National Congress, the exile group led by Ahmad Chalabi, sent out a simple, urgent message to its network of intelligence agents: find evidence of outlawed weapons that would make Saddam Hussein a prime target for the United States.

Inevitably, that request reached Muhammad al-Zubaidi, himself an Iraqi exile who had been working to undermine Mr. Hussein for 24 years from posts in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and northern Iraq. Under the playful name of Al Deeb - Arabic for The Wolf - Mr. Zubaidi, now 52, served as a field leader for about 75 to 100 people who collected information on the machinations of Iraq's police state.

Over the next three months, Mr. Zubaidi and his associates gathered statements from defectors who said they had knowledge of Mr. Hussein's military facilities and who had fled Iraq for neighboring countries.

In short order, that same group of defectors took their stories to American intelligence agents and journalists. The defectors spoke of a nation pocketed with mobile weapons laboratories, a new secret weapons site beneath a Baghdad hospital, a meeting between a member of Mr. Hussein's government and Osama bin Laden - accounts that ultimately became potent elements in Mr. Bush's case for war.

Those accusations remain unproven. In fact, Mr. Zubaidi said in interviews last week in Lebanon, the ominous claims by the defectors differed significantly from the versions that they had first related to him and his associates. Mr. Zubaidi provided his handwritten diaries from 2001 and 2002, and his existing reports on the statements originally made by the defectors.

According to the documents, the defectors, while speaking with precision about aspects of Iraqi military facilities like its stock of missiles, did not initially make some of the most provocative claims about weapons production or that an Iraqi official had met with Mr. bin Laden.

The precise circumstances under which the stories apparently changed remains unclear. The defectors themselves could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Zubaidi contends that the men altered their stories after they met with senior figures in the Iraqi National Congress. Mr. Zubaidi, who acknowledged that he had a bitter split with the I.N.C. in April 2003, said officials of the group prepped the defectors before allowing them to meet with the American intelligence agents and journalists.

"They intentionally exaggerated all the information so they would drag the United States into war," Mr. Zubaidi said. "We all know the defectors had a little information on which they built big stories."

Yesterday, Nabil Musawi, one of Mr. Chalabi's deputies who met with the defectors, said that Mr. Zubaidi's assertions were "childish," and bore no relation to reality. He said it was not the role of Mr. Zubaidi or his associates to do full debriefings of the defectors. Nor was it the responsibility of the I.N.C. to grade the reliability of each defector, he said.

"Whether the defector failed or succeeded, it meant nothing to us," Mr. Musawi said, speaking by phone from Jordan. "There's no question we wanted to indict the regime, but I wish we had someone clever enough to sit down and come up with stories."

For a short time last year, Mr. Zubaidi was in the spotlight, immediately after the old government was toppled in April 2003. Acting in the power vacuum of those early days, he tried to form a civil administration in Baghdad with himself as the executive, an effort that lasted about two weeks before he was taken into custody by the United States military for 12 days and ordered to desist. He later was arrested again and held for about five months. He said he believed his former colleagues at the Iraqi National Congress were behind his jailing, an assumption Mr. Musawi says is not true.

Since February, Mr. Zubaidi has been living quietly outside Beirut. He said he had not publicly discussed details of his role in locating defectors until he was contacted by The New York Times last month. He agreed to be interviewed at length, and to make available any records that had not been confiscated by the American military forces.

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Billionaires for Bush 

Starting in Boston, site of the Democratic Convention, the Billionaires for Bush campaign will hit the campaign trail, traveling through crucial Midwest swing states -- by limo.

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Let's Party, Dude 

Center for Public Integrity, July 8:

At this year's Democratic national convention in Boston, special interests are planning and paying for a reported 200 private parties and receptions for lawmakers and party officials. Corporations, unions, lobbying firms and interest groups will host the Democratic elite at nightclubs, fine dining establishments, museums—even Fenway Park.

Though party officials will not comment on or release a list of the parties, the Center for Public Integrity has identified 70 events, 33 of which are hosted by Boston 2004, the private host committee designated to raise funds and organize welcoming events for the convention. The remaining parties have as sponsors the likes of insurance giant American International Group, biotech firm Genzyme, telecommunications firms Time Warner and Comcast, lobbying firms Patton Boggs LLP and Foley Hoag LLP, unions including the AFL-CIO and the International Brotherhood of Carpenters, and trade groups like the American Gas Association and the National Association of Broadcasters. ...

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Sen. Rockefeller: Bush Administration Next Target of Probe 

The following excerpt is from a transcript of Friday's press conference related to the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on faulty CIA intelligence. The speaker, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, makes clear that the committee's report did not delve much into the Bush administration's doctoring of intelligence. Rockefeller says that the committee intends to look at the Bush administration's involvement in altering the evidence next.

Will there be a second phase. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo questionswhy the Democrats on the committee signed off on a report, which lets the Bush administration pretty much off the hook.

Sen. Rockefeller:

.... The central issue of how intelligence on Iraq was, in this senator's opinion, exaggerated by the Bush administration officials was relegated to that second phase, as yet unbegun, of the committee investigation, along with other issues.

We've done a little bit of work on the number three guy in the Defense Department, Douglas Feith, part of his alleged efforts to run intelligence past the intelligence community altogether, his relationship with the INC and Chalabi, who was very much in favor with the administration wanting them to come on in. And was he running a private intelligence failure, which is not lawful.

As a result, the committee's report fails to fully explain the environment of intense pressure in which the intelligence community officials were asked to render judgments on matters relating to Iraq when the most senior officials in the Bush administration had already forcefully and repeatedly stated their conclusions publicly.

It was clear to all of us in this room who were watching that, and to many others, that they had made up their mind that they were going to go to war. And I believe to this day, and I always have and I've said so publicly many times in regretting my vote, that there was a predetermination, even going back to 1998 in a letter to Bill Clinton, saying, "The time for diplomacy has ended and now is the time for the use of military force." ...

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I Love You Buddy: Bush and Kenny "Boy" Lay  

Preisent George W. Bush
and Kenny "Boy" Lay

While the White House has repeatedly described former Enron chairman Kenneth Lay as simply a "supporter" of George W. Bush, extensive correspondence between the two men paints a far cozier picture of their relationship, according to copies of letters obtained this afternoon (2/15) by The Smoking Gun.

The pages of correspondence, exchanged during the years Bush served as governor of Texas, were released today in Austin by the state archives in response to Freedom of Information requests filed by TSG and other news organizations.

The Bush-Lay material touches on both personal matters (birthday greetings and Bush's knee surgery) and public concerns of Lay and Enron, such as energy legislation and tort reform, and reflects the kind of jocular relationship that reportedly saw the nickname-happy Bush call the Enron boss "Kenny Boy." The Houston-based energy firm, Bush's leading career political contributor, is now bankrupt and the target of a multitude of criminal and congressional probes.

We've arranged the Bush-Lay letters into several batches and, where applicable, have followed an original letter with the recipent's reply. TSG will upload the correspondence as quickly as we can scan the documents. You'll find the first 15 letters below along with links that will get you to the additional pages.

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Intelligence Committee to Focus Inquiry on Bush 

Associated Press, July 9

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., says the Senate Intelligence Committee will concentrate on the administration of President George W. Bush for the second half of its report on pre-war intelligence.

The committee released the first half of the report, which states that the Central Intelligence Agency (news - web sites)'s missteps ended up giving the Bush administration overstated or incorrect conclusions before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. ...

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Bush Refuses to Talk Before NAACP Convention 

Associated Press, July 8:

Philadelphia -- President Bush declined an invitation to speak at the NAACP's annual convention, the group said.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People expects more than 8,000 people to attend the convention, which opens on Saturday.

Democratic challenger John Kerry accepted an invitation to speak next Thursday on the final day of the convention, the NAACP said.

Bush spoke at the 2000 NAACP convention in Baltimore when he was running for president. ...

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Damn the Environment: Bush Attacks Arctic Refuge 

The New York Times, July 8:

by Bruce Babbitt

ARROW, Alaska — Thwarted by the public in its efforts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, the Bush administration and the oil companies are now quietly turning their attention to the balance of the Arctic region of Alaska, all the way west to the Chukchi Sea, within sight of Siberia. In advance of its efforts, the administration has jettisoned environmental safeguards and is now threatening the traditional-use rights of the Alaska Natives who have hunted caribou and waterfowl along the Arctic slope for thousands of years. ...

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Sewer District Boss Censors Union Members 

The chairman of the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, Robert J. Baer, halted some MSD employees from speaking during the public comment section at last night's meeting of the MSD board of trustees.

The sewer district is engaged in a contract dispute with two of its unions and 30 to 40 union members attended the meeting. Six signed up to speak at the meeting. But when it came to the public forum section, Baer told them only one member of each union could speak. Despite protests from union leaders, Baer still refused.

"Bob Baer clearly trampled on their first amendment right of free speech," said Tom Sullivan, a long-time MSD critic who was at the meeting. "Whenever a forum is opened at a public meeting, everyone has the right to speak."

The first person to speak was Elston McCowan of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. He expressed his displeasure at Baer for not allowing everyone to speak and then addressed union matters. He was followed by another union member and then another quickly went to the lectern. But Baer would not call on the others.

The unions recently brought a pig to the grounds of MSD headquarters at Jefferson and Market for a news conference and had it snorting through dollar bills that were laid on the ground. The unions said it was symbolic of how the MSD board wasted money.

Elston McCowan of AFSCME can be contacted at 314-995-9707

Pseudo States 

the Valley Advocate, July 8:

... If the new Iraq-to-be is not a state, what is it? A half century ago one could talk about colonies, protectorates, and spheres of influence, but in our supposedly post-colonial world, the vocabulary is poorer. We lack a word for a country where most real power is in the hands of someone else, whether that be shadowy local militias, other nations' armies, or both. Pseudostate, perhaps. From Afghanistan to the Palestinian Authority, Bosnia to Congo, pseudostates have now spread around the globe. Some will even be exchanging ambassadors with Iraq.

Pseudostates, in fact, are nothing new. They have a long and fascinating history. Two notable groups of them had surprising fates near the twentieth century's end. ...

[read more]

Right-Wing Gets Religion 

Info Shop, July 8:
by Stephen Zunes

In recent years, a politicized and right-wing Protestant fundamentalist movement has emerged as a major factor in US support for the policies of the rightist Likud government in Israel. To understand this influence, it is important to recognize that the rise of the religious right as a political force in the United States is a relatively recent phenomenon that emerged as part of a calculated strategy by leading right-wingers in the Republican Party who - while not fundamentalist Christians themselves - recognized the need to enlist the support of this key segment of the US population in order to achieve political power.

Traditionally, US fundamentalist Protestants were not particularly active in national politics, long seen as worldly and corrupt. This changed in the late 1970s as part of a calculated effort by conservative Republican operatives who recognized that as long as the Republican Party was primarily identified with militaristic foreign policies and economic proposals that favored the wealthy, it would remain a minority party. Over the previous five decades, Republicans had won only four out of 12 presidential elections and had controlled Congress for only two of its 24 sessions.

By mobilizing rightist religious leaders and adopting conservative positions on highly charged social issues such as women's rights, abortion, sex education and homosexuality, Republican strategists were able to bring millions of fundamentalist Christians - who as a result of their lower-than-average income were not otherwise inclined to vote Republican - into their party. Through such organizations as the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition, the Republicans promoted a right-wing political agenda through radio and television broadcasts as well as from the pulpit. Since capturing this pivotal constituency, Republicans have won four out of six presidential races, have dominated the Senate for seven out of 12 sessions, and have controlled the House of Representatives for the past decade.

As a result of being politically wooed, those who identify with the religious right are now more likely than the average American to vote and to be politically active. The Christian Right constitutes nearly one out of seven US voters and determines the agenda of the Republican Party in about half of the states, particularly in the South and Midwest. A top Republican staffer noted: "Christian conservatives have proved to be the political base for most Republicans. Many of these guys, especially the leadership, are real believers in this stuff, and so are their constituents. ...

Dissecting the Neo-Cons  

from Open Democracy Net, July 7:

The three chief tenets of neo-conservative ideology are:

* The human condition is a choice between good and evil, and the true measure of political character is to be found in the willingness by the former (themselves) to confront the latter

* The fundamental determinant of the relationship between states rests on military power and the willingness to use it

* The Middle East and global Islam is the prime theatre for American overseas interests.

In making these tenets active, neo-conservatives:

* See international issues in morally absolutist categories; they are convinced that they alone hold the moral high ground and argue that disagreement effectively offers comfort to the enemy

* Emphasize the unipolar nature of American power and are prepared to exercise the military option as the first rather than last policy choice; they repudiate the received “lessons of Vietnam”, believing they undermine American willingness to use force - and rather embrace the “lessons of Munich”, believing they establish the virtues of pre-emptive military action

* Disdain conventional diplomatic agencies such as the state department and country-specific, pragmatic analysis because they dilute and confuse the ideological clarity of their policies

* Eschew multilateral institutions and treaties while drawing comfort from international criticism, believing that it confirms American virtue

[read more]

Former LA Mayor Calls 6-Year-Old a "Stupid, Dirty Girl 

Sacramento Bee, July 9:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office continued to back embattled Education Secretary Richard Riordan on Thursday amid growing outrage and demands for Riordan's resignation over his bizarre comment to a 6-year-old girl.

Riordan, a former Los Angeles mayor long known for occasionally making off-the-cuff comments that offend some people, was under attack for telling the youngster at a Santa Barbara library reading program last week that her name, Isis, "means stupid, dirty girl." ...

... (T)he girl was African American ...

The NAACP, the California Coalition for Racial Equality and a spokesman for League of United Latin American Citizens, the nation's oldest Latino civil rights group, continued to call for Riordan to step down ...

[read more]

Kabul Kooks: 3 Americans Arrested for Kidnapping Men with Beards 

CNN, July 9:

Afghan government officials raided a rented house in the capital late Sunday where the three Americans lived. They found a private prison inside the building that contained eight prisoners, a Ministry of Interior official said Friday.

The raid came after Afghan citizens reported their family members missing over the past several months.

At a news briefing Thursday, State Dept. spokesman Richard Boucher identified all three as American citizens, noting "the U.S. government does not employ or sponsor these men."

He identified two of the men as Jonathan Idema and Brent Bennett, but could not release the name of the third because he had not signed a Privacy Act waiver.

Idema and his colleagues told Afghan authorities they were operating the prison because they wanted "to take part in the war on terror," the Afghan official said.

The Americans did not torture their prisoners, but did administer "some beatings," the official added. ...

The Americans were mainly detaining men with long beards on the outskirts of Kabul who they suspected -- based on their appearance -- to be members of al Qaeda, the interior ministry official said.

[read more]

Republicans Hijack Patriot Act Amendment 

Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) today led a bipartisan coalition in an attempt to restore protections to library and bookstore patrons’ records which have been undermined by Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. The amendment, facing threat of a Presidential veto, received a majority of votes in the U.S. House when the time for voting expired. However, the House Republican Leadership then held open the vote twice as long as scheduled, an additional 20 minutes, as they “persuaded” Republicans to switch their votes. As Democratic members chanted, “Shame, Shame, Shame,” Republican leaders closed the vote on a 210 to 210 tie.

After the vote, Sanders said, “I believe that Congress should do all that it can to protect the American people from another terrorist attack, but we must do that without undermining basic constitutional rights. I find it ironic that, on an amendment designed to protect American democracy and our constitutional rights, the Republican Leadership in the House had to rig the vote and subvert the democratic process in order to prevail. This was a very sad day for democracy in America.”

Sanders’ amendment, cosponsored by Reps. Butch Otter (R-ID), John Conyers (D-MI), Ron Paul (R-TX) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would have prohibited the government from using the federal secret court to gain access to records in libraries and bookstores about Americans’ reading habits – authority that was given the government by the controversial USA Patriot Act.

Press release from Vermont Rep. Bernie Sanders, July 9:

[read more]

Father of the Bride Ordered the Deaths of Thousands of Mayans 

Republican Rep. Jerry Weller of Illinois' 11th District is engaged to marry Zury Rios Sosa, the daughter of Efrain Rios Montt, a former Guatemala dictator supported by the Reagan administration in the 1980s.

The Daily News, June 8:

by Juan Gonzalez

... A slew of thugs and dictators flourished in Latin America with White House backing during the Reagan era. But none quite matched the grisly record of Gen. Efrain Rios Montt, the career soldier and evangelical minister who has been dubbed Guatemala's Saddam.

After seizing power following a military coup in March 1982, Rios Montt unleashed a reign of terror more bloody than any in Guatemalan history since the Spanish conquistadors.

Over the next 18 months, an estimated 70,000 Guatemalans were killed or disappeared, most of them Mayan Indians. More than 90% died at the hands of soldiers or right-wing death squads.

A Guatemalan truth commission created after the end of civil war concluded the killings were so massive, they constituted genocide. The commission criticized the CIA and the U.S. government for its involvement. Then-President Bill Clinton eventually apologized for the U.S. role.

In the midst of this colossal human carnage, Reagan provided military aid to the Guatemalan generals. On Dec. 4, 1982, in a meeting with the dictator himself, Reagan declared: "President Rios Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment. . . . I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice." ...

[read more]

Thursday, July 08, 2004

9/11 Families' Unanswered Questions 

Below are excerpts from the lists of questions the Family Steering Committee has submitted to the 9/11 Commission.

President George W. Bush
updated May 13, 2004

As Commander-in-Chief on the morning of 9/11, why didn’t you return immediately to Washington, D.C. or the National Military Command Center once you became aware that America was under attack? At specifically what time did you become aware that America was under attack? Who informed you of this fact?

Vice President Richard Cheney

Please discuss the advice and plans of the Energy Advisory Council specifically as they relate to pipeline development and gas/oil exploration in Afghanistan, Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries, and the feasibility of such development or exploration specifically in those two countries in 2001.

[read more]

Tom Delay Hires Lawyers for Two Cases Against Him 

House Republican Majority Leader Tom Delay of Texas has hired three lawyers to defend him in two separate cases he now faces.

In one case, Delay is being charged with an ethics violation by Democratic Rep. Chris Bell. In the other case, Delay is the subject of a criminal investigation into a political action committee conducted by Travis County district attorney Ronnie Earle.

[read more]

Illinois Congressman to Wed Daughter of Central American Dictator 

There must be something in the water over in Illinios, at least in the GOP water. First, senate candidate Jack Ryan was knocked out of the race over a sex scandal. Then 10th District Rep. Mark Kirk announced he worked for the CIA. And now 11th District Rep. Jerry Weller is marrying the daughter of a Central American dictator, who sponsored death squads.

from the Stakeholder blog:

U.S. Rep. Jerry Weller's Democratic opponent is raising questions about the congressman's pending marriage to the daughter of a former Central American dictator.

Tari Renner of Normal, who is challenging Weller in Illinois' 11th Congressional District, said he was surprised to learn of the Morris Republican's decision to marry Zury Rios Sosa of Guatemala because her father ruled the Central American country during one of its bloodiest eras. ....

[read more]

Bush A Mega Flip Flopper 

Examine his record and see him waffle:

the Center for American Progess, July 7:

From the beginning, George W. Bush has made his own credibility a central issue. On 10/11/00, then-Gov. Bush said: "I think credibility is important.It is going to be important for the president to be credible with Congress, important for the president to be credible with foreign nations." But President Bush's serial flip-flopping raises serious questions about whether Congress and foreign leaders can rely on what he says. ...

[read more]

Helen Thomas: "This Government Lies." 

Indianapolis Star, July 8

By Sara Scavongelli

Hearst News Service columnist Helen Thomas has unambiguous feelings about the Bush administration.

"This government lies," she said Wednesday to editors, reporters and interns from The Indianapolis Star.

As for the Bush administration's claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, one of the key arguments for going to war against Saddam Hussein, Thomas had one word: "Baloney."

"I think we have a government that absolutely is ignoring the truth and a press that is ignoring the truth," she said during a luncheon at the Downtown Radisson Hotel.

Thomas, 83, who worked for United Press International for 57 years as a correspondent and White House bureau chief, began covering the Oval Office during the Kennedy administration.

The columnist said she thinks the press today is doing a terrible job covering the presidency -- worse than she ever has seen.

"I really think that reporters for two, three months after 9/11 -- everyone was afraid to ask their question," Thomas said. "They would not ask any question that would appear to be unpatriotic."

This reticent culture continued into the war in Iraq, where reporters feared questions would be perceived as jeopardizing American troops, Thomas said

[read more]

What Are Lawyers Good For? Sueing HMOs 

In October 2001, Sen. John Edwards, a former trial lawyer, appeared on NBC News' Meet the Press and clearly explained why the Bush administration's so-called "patients' bill of right," gave the store away to the insurance companies.

Washington Monthly, October 2001:

On August 5th, NBC's Meet the Press featured someone and something we're likely to see much more of in years to come: Senator John Edwards (D-N.C.) squaring off against a nervous representative of the Bush administration.
he issue in this case was the so-called patients' bill of rights, and Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-G.A.) the Bush surrogate. Days earlier, the president had sweet-talked Norwood into a midnight deal that sharply restricted patients' right to sue their HMOs. Norwood, who for many years had advocated a much tougher bill, had essentially been suckered, and appeared acutely aware of this as he sat alongside Edwards, glumly resigned to defending a bad deal. ...

Tim Russert was on the attack, pressing Norwood about his recent yielding on patients' rights to sue in state courts: "Why did you abandon those views?" Norwood hemmed and hawed and finally was reduced to parroting the administration's line: "It is potentially possible that [lawsuits] could ruin the employer-based health-care system in the country." Russert pressed him harder. "Do you believe that?" It turned out Norwood did not.

Russert then turned to Edwards, a trial lawyer by profession, who neatly summarized the deal's shortcomings. "Number one, this deal---which was written in the middle of the night, by the way---takes away rights that patients already have across the country," he explained. "Number two, it maintains the privileged special status that HMOs enjoy today. And, number three, it stacks the deck against patients when they're trying to hold HMOs accountable for what they do." Edwards also pointed out that a seemingly minor change in the bill's language had shifted accountability away from HMOs---something Norwood had failed to recognize and meekly agreed was "a mistake."

[read more]

D'Amato to Bush: Drop Cheney Like a Bad Habit 

The New York Times, July 8:

by Ray Hernandez

WASHINGTON, July 7 - Alfonse M. D'Amato, the once-influential Republican senator from New York, says that President Bush should drop Vice President Dick Cheney. Mr. D'Amato, famous for his blunt candor and shrewd political skills, has suggested twice in the past two days that Mr. Bush could replace Mr. Cheney with one of two big-name Republicans who he said could ensure Mr. Bush's re-election: Secretary of State Colin L. Powell or Senator John McCain of Arizona.

"As an observer of politics, I believe the president can guarantee his essential re-election by looking to several other notable individuals who would add a great dimension to his ticket as a running mate," Mr. D'Amato said. ...

[read more]

Pakistan's Secret Service Enlisted by Bush Re-Election Campaign 

New Republic, July 7:

The New Republic has learned that Pakistani security officials have been told they must produce HVTs by the election. According to one source in Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), "The Pakistani government is really desperate and wants to flush out bin Laden and his associates after the latest pressures from the U.S. administration to deliver before the [upcoming] U.S. elections." Introducing target dates for Al Qaeda captures is a new twist in U.S.-Pakistani counterterrorism relations--according to a recently departed intelligence official, "no timetable[s]" were discussed in 2002 or 2003--but the November election is apparently bringing a new deadline pressure to the hunt. Another official, this one from the Pakistani Interior Ministry, which is responsible for internal security, explains, "The Musharraf government has a history of rescuing the Bush administration. They now want Musharraf to bail them out when they are facing hard times in the coming elections." (These sources insisted on remaining anonymous. Under Pakistan's Official Secrets Act, an official leaking information to the press can be imprisoned for up to ten years.)

... A third source, an official who works under ISI's director, Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq, informed tnr that the Pakistanis "have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs before [the] election is [an] absolute must." What's more, this source claims that Bush administration officials have told their Pakistani counterparts they have a date in mind for announcing this achievement: "The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq's] meetings in Washington." Says McCormack: "I'm aware of no such comment." But according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston. ...

[read more]

Pakistan's ISI -- U.S. Ally in Hunt for al-Qaida -- Filled with Assassins and Drug Traffickers 

The Daily Telegraph of London, Sept. 26, 2001,

The Assassins and Drug Dealers Now Helping US Intelligence

By Rahul Bedi in New Delhi

Pakistan's shadowy intelligence service, one of the main sources of information for the US-led alliance against the Taliban regime, is widely associated with political assassinations, narcotics and the smuggling of nuclear and missile components - and backing fundamentalist Islamic movements.

Locally referred to as Pakistan's "secret army" and the "invisible government", the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) was founded soon after independence in 1948. Today it dominates the country's domestic and foreign policies. It is also responsible for manipulating the volatile religious elements, ethnic groups and political parties that are disliked by the army.

Modelled on Savak, the Iranian security agency and, like it, trained by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the SDECE, France's external intelligence service, the ISI "ran" the mujahideen in their decade-long fight against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. According to Brig Mohammad Yousaf, who headed the ISI's Afghan Bureau for four years until 1987, the counter-intelligence agency funnelled US money and weapons to the mujahideen to minister the "time-honoured guerrilla tactic of death by a thousand cuts" on the Soviet "Bear" that collapsed soon after it was driven from Afghanistan in 1989.

The brigadier said: "It was the only way to defeat a superpower on the battlefield with ill-disciplined, ill-trained tribesmen whose only asset was an unconquerable fighting spirit welded to a warrior tradition."

Brig Yousef was writing in The Bear Trap, the book that succeeding Pakistani administrations have tried to ban because it detailed the ISI's methods.

In the early 1990s the ISI provided logistic and military support for the Taliban, which emerged from Pakistani madrassahs (Muslim seminaries), and helped it to seize power in Kabul five years ago.

Thereafter, it maintained a "formidable" presence across Afghanistan, helping the Taliban, who are mostly Pathans, to consolidate their hold over the country. The tactics used included bribery and raids that wiped out entire villages of different ethnic tribes.

It is the knowledge gained of the Taliban into which the US is tapping before it launches punitive raids against Kabul, military officials said.

Intelligence sources said that the ISI-CIA collaboration in the 1980s assisted Osama bin Laden, as well as Mir Aimal Kansi, who assassinated two CIA officers outside their office in Langley, Virginia, in 1993, and Ramzi Yousef. Yousef and his accomplices were involved in the failed bomb attack on the World Trade Centre in New York five years later.

The intelligence link-up also helped powerful international drug smugglers.

Opium cultivation and heroin production in Pakistan's northern tribal belt and adjoining Afghanistan was a vital offshoot of the ISI-CIA co-operation. It succeeded in turning some of the Soviet troops into addicts.

Heroin sales in Europe and the US, carried out through an elaborate web of deception, transport networks, couriers and pay-offs, offset the cost of the decade-long "unholy war" in Afghanistan. An intelligence officer said: "The heroin dollars contributed largely to bolstering the Pakistani economy and its nuclear programme, and enabled the ISI to sponsor its covert operations in Afghanistan and northern India's disputed Kashmir state."

In the 1970s the ISI established a division to procure nuclear and missile technology for the military from abroad, especially China and North Korea. They also smuggled in crucial nuclear components and know-how from Europe.

A director general, always an army officer of the rank of lieutenant general, heads the ISI. Its current head, Lt Gen Mahmood Ahmed, is assisted by three major generals heading the agency's political, external and administrative divisions.

At the behest of Gen Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, the ISI's internal political division is believed to have assassinated Shah Nawaz Bhutto, a brother of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. He was poisoned on the French Riviera in 1985.

The ISI reportedly wanted to intimidate Ms Bhutto so that she would not return to Pakistan to direct the multi-party movement for the restoration of democracy. She returned home, only to be toppled by a political movement fostered by the ISI soon after she became prime minister in 1988.

The main concern for Gen Pervaiz Musharraf, the current leader of Pakistan, is that the ISI's loyalties may still lie more with the Taliban than with its own government and its new American "partner".

Orrin Hatch and the Lost Tribe of Israel  

The Salt Lake Tribune, July 8:

WASHINGTON -- Reading from the Bible on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch endorsed a federal judicial nominee who wrote that wives should have a subordinate role in marriage, with the Utah Republican emphasizing "millions and millions of people will agree with" that view.

In a preview of the religious rhetoric that will likely dominate next week's scheduled Senate debate over a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, Hatch led the fight for confirming Arkansas lawyer J. Leon Holmes to the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Arkansas.

[read more]

Child Abuse at Abu Ghraib? 

German print and broadcast news outlets are reporting on alleged abuse of children at Abu Ghraib by U.S. troops

[read more]

Star Wars: The Next Generation 

Voice of America, July 8:

Australia and the United States have signed a pact to develop a controversial missile defense shield. President Bush made the project a priority after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington in 2001. But critics have questioned its cost, viability, and Australia's need for such a system.

Australia's government says it need a way to protect its shores from ballistic missiles, even though at the moment the remote continent faces no threat from long-range weapons. ...

[read more]

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor 

Winnebago Man

Amscr: Uncle Sam Shows Foreign Reporters Door 

the Guardian, July 8:

by Owen Gibson

A crackdown by US authorities on issuing visas to foreign journalists threatens to cause chaos for overseas broadcasters and newspapers just five months before the presidential election.

The new rules, which come into force next week, will ban overseas reporters and news crews stationed in the US from renewing their visas without leaving the country first.

Just five months before American voters decide who will be appointed to the most powerful office in the world, the US state department said it would no longer allow overseas journalists to renew visas from within the country.

From next week the estimated 20,000 foreign journalists stationed in the US, who used to be able to renew their visas with ease in any major city, will be forced to leave the country to do so.

Rather than applying to renew their visas in Washington or New York, they will be forced to leave the country and re-apply at a US embassy or consulate abroad, delaying their application for between four weeks and six months. ...

[read more]

FEMA Worker Sent Packing to Texas After Arrest at W. Va. Bush Rally 

This is a good one. One of the two people arrested at Bush's Fourth of July rally in West Virgina was a federal worker. She was arrested for wearing an anti-Bush T-shirt. The cops handcuffed her and her husband and removed them from the crowd. She was working on flood relief for the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the time of her arrest. Since the arrest, the couple has been sent back to their home state of Texas. She may be fired over the incident. But the kicker is the fact that the rally was billed as a presidential visit not a campaign stop -- so U.S. taxpayers got to pay for Bush's visit.

Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette, July 08, 2004

FEMA Worker Ordered Home: Woman, Husband Wore T-shirts with Anti-Bush Logo at July Fourth Rally

By Paul J. Nyden

A worker with the Federal Emergency Management Agency who wore an anti-Bush T-shirt at the president’s July Fourth rally in Charleston has been sent home to Texas.

Nicole Rank, who was working for FEMA in West Virginia, and her husband, Jeff, were removed from the Capitol grounds in handcuffs shortly before Bush’s speech. The pair wore T-shirts with the message “Love America, Hate Bush.”

The Ranks were ticketed for trespassing and released. They have been given summonses to appear in court, Charleston Police Lt. C.A. Vincent said Wednesday.

FEMA spokesman Ross Fredenburg would not say Wednesday whether Nicole Rank had been fired.

On Sunday, Charleston Police Sgt. R.E. Parsons said Nicole and Jeff Rank were in a no-trespassing area and refused to leave.

The White House coordinated the president’s visit to the state Capitol. Organizers described it as a presidential visit, not a political rally. State and federal funds were used to pay for the presidential visit.

Dozens of people who attended Sunday’s event wore pro-Bush T-shirts and Bush-Cheney campaign buttons, some of which were sold on the Capitol grounds outside the security screening stations. ...

[read more]

White House to Pakistan: Kill Osama or Somebody Quick! 

According to Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, sources say the Bush administration is putting pressure on the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence service, to kill as many al-Qaida HVTs (High-Value Targets) as possible -- and then announce the kills during the Democratic National Convention later this month

[read more]

You Don't Have to Go Home, But You Gotta Leave: Closing Time at Whiskey Bar 

Billmon, the blogger who runs the Whiskey Bar, turned off the lights on comments on June 28. Apparently he has a higher tolerance for ignorance than I do, but he finally had to admit it was past closing time.

[read more]

Thumbnail of CIA Agent Rep. Mark Kirk 

Chicago Sun-Times, Oct 15, 2000


Age: 41

Residence: Wilmette, Ill.

Family: Is engaged to Kimberly Vertolli of Alexandria, Va.

Education: Received a bachelor's degree in history from Cornell University; master's from London School of Economics; J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Occupation: On leave from his job as general counsel for the U.S. House International Relations Committee.

Political experience: Began his career in government in 1984 as an aide to U.S. Rep. John Porter, eventually serving as his chief of staff from 1987 to 1990. He served as a special assistant to the assistant secretary for inter-American affairs at the U.S. State Department.

Primary fact: Kirk won his party's primary race in a crowded 10-person field and was outspent 15-1.

Short List of Private War Contractors 

Source: The Center for Public Integrity

DynCorp a division of Computer Sciences Corp., based in Reston, Va.: Iraq, Afghanistan, Ecuador, Sudan

Kellogg, Brown & Root Inc. a unit of Halliburton, based in Houston: Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba, Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Vinnell Corp. a division of Northrop Grumman, based in Fairfax, Va.: Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Taiwan, Turkey, Japan

MPRI a division of L-3 Communications, Alexandria, Va.: Iraq, Colombia, Croatia, Equatorial Guinea, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kuwait, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Senegal, Taiwan, Macedonia

ArmorGroup based in U.S. and Britain: Iraq, Angola, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation

Defence Systems Ltd. a subsidiary of ArmorGroup, based in London: Iraq, Algeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Rwanda, Colombia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Saudi Arabia

Control Risks Group Ltd. based in London: Iraq, Algeria, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, French Guiana, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Colombia, Myanmar

Sandline International based in London: Sierra Leone, Papua New Guinea

Irish Times: Cheney Helped Cover Up Death Squads  

William Walker later served as Our Man in Kosovo

Irish Times, Nov. 10, 1993
By Conor O'Clery

"... In 1989 the then US ambassador. William Walker, also invited Mr d'Aubuisson to the embassy, for a Fourth of July party. Mr Walker said he had to deal with him as an elected official. Later Mr Walker urged withholding aid to protest delays in the investigation of the murder of six Jesuit priests in 1991. He was opposed by the Defence Secretary, Mr Dick Cheney. ...

Dnycorp's Dodgy Past Includes Sex Slave Trade 

Dyncorp, one of the many private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, was implicated in an earlier prostitution scandal in Bosnia.

The Guardian, November 27, 2002:

110,000 in British Sterling Paid to Sacked whistleblower: UN Police Officer Unfairly Dismissed After Revealing Peacekeepers Involved in Bosnian Sex Trade

by Jamie Wilson

A UN police officer unfairly sacked after blowing the whistle on colleagues involved in the Bosnian sex trade was yesterday awarded pounds 110,000 compensation.

Kathryn Bolkovac was dismissed after revealing UN peacekeepers went to nightclubs where girls as young as 15 were forced to dance naked and have sex with customers, and that UN personnel and international aid workers were linked to prostitution rings in the Balkans.

Yesterday an employment tribunal ordered her former employer, DynCorp, which has a branch in Salisbury, Wiltshire, to pay her pounds 110,221. A hearing in August had ruled she was unfairly dismissed by the US company, which dealt with the contracts of American officers working for the international police force in Bosnia.

Yesterday the panel criticised DynCorp's "extraordinary attitude" towards Ms Bolkovac. The chairman, Charles Twiss, said: "It is hard to imagine a case in which a firm has acted in a more callous, spiteful and vindictive manner towards a former employee."

Ms Bolkovac, who was inves tigating human trafficking and forced prostitution, sent damning emails to her employers detailing UN workers' involvement in the sex trade.

Girls as young as 15 were smuggled into Bosnia to work as dancers, waitresses, and prostitutes; many ended up in bars frequented by UN police officers and other humanitarian workers.

Once handed over to bar owners, the girls were given dance costumes and told they must perform sex acts on customers to pay for the clothing. If they refused, they were beaten, locked in rooms without food for days, and beaten and gang raped by the bar owners and their associates.

Within days of sending the emails Ms Bolkovac, 41, was demoted and six months later was sacked from her pounds 30,000-a-year job for allegedly falsifying a timesheet.

The officer, an American employed by DynCorp and contracted to the UN, maintained that she had been dismissed for whistleblowing. She said that DynCorp wanted her removed because her work was threatening its "lucrative contract" to supply officers to the mission.

During the hearing the firm admitted three officers had been sacked for using prostitutes - one of them had even "bought" a sex slave for Dollars 700 and kept her in his apartment.

Dennis Laducer, the deputy commissioner of the international police taskforce, had been caught in one of the most notorious brothels in Bosnia, the tribunal heard. Mr Laducer, an American who was one of the most senior officers in the UN's Bosnia mission, is no longer involved with the organisation and his employment records state he should never work for the UN again, the hearing was told.

DynCorp, which has 23,000 employees worldwide, denied that it had sacked Ms Bolkovac for whistleblowing, claiming that she had been dismissed for gross misconduct.

The tribunal in Southampton ruled that Ms Bolkovac's stance had made her a "marked woman", and she had been demoted, then sacked, for exposing the corruption. The tribunal's award included pounds 10,117 in lost wages, pounds 81,254 in lost future earnings, and pounds 15,000 for injury to feelings. In the ruling Mr Twiss said her dismissal was a "very serious blight on her ability to apply successfully for posts in international organisations."

The Arming of Albanian "Hunting Clubs" and Other Acts of Diplomacy 

The Times of London, March 12, 2000:

CIA aided Kosovo guerrilla army

by Tom Walker and Aidan Laverty

AMERICAN intelligence agents have admitted they helped to train the Kosovo Liberation Army before Nato's bombing of Yugoslavia. The disclosure angered some European diplomats, who said this had undermined moves for a political solution to the conflict between Serbs and Albanians.

Central Intelligence Agency officers were ceasefire monitors in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999, developing ties with the KLA and giving American military training manuals and field advice on fighting the Yugoslav army and Serbian police.

When the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which co-ordinated the monitoring, left Kosovo a week before airstrikes began a year ago, many of its satellite telephones and global positioning systems were secretly handed to the KLA, ensuring that guerrilla commanders could stay in touch with Nato and Washington. Several KLA leaders had the mobile phone number of General Wesley Clark, the Nato commander.

European diplomats then working for the OSCE claim it was betrayed by an American policy that made airstrikes inevitable. Some have questioned the motives and loyalties of William Walker, the American OSCE head of mission.

"The American agenda consisted of their diplomatic observers, aka the CIA, operating on completely different terms to the rest of Europe and the OSCE," said a European envoy.

Several Americans who were directly involved in CIA activities or close to them have spoken to the makers of Moral Combat, a documentary to be broadcast on BBC2 tonight, and to The Sunday Times about their clandestine roles. Walker dismissed suggestions that he had wanted war in Kosovo, but admitted the CIA was almost certainly involved in the countdown to airstrikes.

Initially some "diplomatic observers" arrived, followed in October by a much larger group that was eventually swallowed up into the OSCE's "Kosovo Verification Mission".

Walker said: "Overnight we went from having a handful of people to 130 or more. Could the agency have put them in at that point? Sure they could. It's their job. But nobody told me."

Walker, who was nominated by Madeleine Albright, the American secretary of state, was intensely disliked by Belgrade. He had worked briefly for the United Nations in Croatia. Ten years earlier he was the American ambassador to El Salvador when Washington was helping the government there to suppress leftist rebels while supporting the contra guerrillas against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

Some European diplomats in Pristina, Kosovo's capital, concluded from Walker's background that he was inextricably linked with the CIA. The picture was muddied by the continued separation of American "diplomatic observers" from the mission. The CIA sources who have now broken their silence say the diplomatic observers were more closely connected to the agency.

"It was a CIA front, gathering intelligence on the KLA's arms and leadership," said one.

Another agent, who said he felt he had been "suckered in" by an organisation that has run amok in post-war Kosovo, said: "I'd tell them which hill to avoid, which wood to go behind, that sort of thing."

The KLA has admitted its long-standing links with American and European intelligence organisations. Shaban Shala, a KLA commander now involved in attempts to destabilise majority Albanian villages beyond Kosovo's border in Serbia proper, claimed he had met British, American and Swiss agents in northern Albania in 1996.

Belgrade has alleged the CIA also helped to arm the KLA, but this was denied by the guerrillas and agency sources.

"It was purely the Albanian diaspora helping their brothers," said Florin Krasniqi, a New York builder and one of the KLA's biggest financiers. He described how sniper rifles were exported from America using a loophole in federal law that allowed them to be shipped to "hunting clubs". Armour piercing Barratt rifles made their way to the KLA's "hunting club" in Albania.

Agim Ceku, the KLA commander in the latter stages of the conflict, had established American contacts through his work in the Croatian army, which had been modernised with the help of Military Professional Resources Inc, an American company specialising in military training and procurement. This company's personnel were in Kosovo, along with others from a similar company, Dyncorps, that helped in the American-backed programme for the Bosnian army.

A Word on E-Warfare from Rep. or Agent Kirk 

Rep. Mark Kirk, an alleged CIA operative and U.S. congressman, on the practical applications of electronic warfare:

from the Irish Times, Oct. 5, 2001:

"The US led a co-ordinated attack on the financial web of Milosevic in an under-reported campaign. Anyone who stood with the Yugoslav leader was bankrupted - families, relations, business associates. More than 700 Yugoslavs in all," said US congressman Mr Mark Kirk, from Illinois. Before his election, Mr Kirk served as a military intelligence officer in the Kosovo campaign.

Mr Kirk added: "Anyone targeted would suddenly look in their bank accounts in Switzerland or the Bahamas and find the money was gone."

That, apparently, is only one aspect of what the terrorists and their backers face from the emerging arsenal of electronic weapons and tactics at the disposal of the US and its allies. ...

Bush, King "Hash" Out Moroccan Issues at White House 

free trade
human rights

President George W. Bush today meets with Morocco's King Mohammed VI today, only after Bush crony James Baker resigned as U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's personal envoy for Western Sahara, a post he held since 1997. More recently, Baker, a former Secretary of State in the first Bush administration, has acted as a special White House envoy in convince EU nations to forgive Iraqi debts.

The impasse in negotiations between Morocco and the Algerian-supported POLISARIO Front on future of the disputed territory, formerly controlled by Spain, has been ensuing for more than a decade. In one of the latest developments Morocco has refused to reciprocate in releasing prisoners of war.

Human Rights Watch is urging Bush to remind the king that last year's deadly terrorist attack in Morocco shouldn't be used as an excuse to violate human rights.

The White House talks will likely include a discussion of a pending free trade agreement between the two nations.

However, Morocco rejected the peace plan in April and proposed to give Western Sahara limited autonomy

[read more]

Ridge: al-Qaida Attacks Imminent, Stay Tuned for Details 

Without citing one iota of evidence, Homeland Security czar Tom Ridge predicted increased chances for an al-Qaida attack during the presidential election season.

Bloomberg News, July 8:
-- The risk of terrorist attacks within the U.S. is increased as the nation moves toward the Nov. 2 presidential elections, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said.

"Credible reporting now indicates that al-Qaeda is moving forward with its plans to carry out a large-scale attack in the United States in an effort to disrupt our democratic process," Ridge said.

"We lack precise knowledge about time, place and method of attack," he said. ...

[read more]

Four U.S. Soldiers Die in Samarra 

AFP, July 8:

SAMARRA, Iraq : At least six Iraqis and four US soldiers were killed in fresh violence in the insurgency hotbed of Samarra, north of the capital, according to US military and hospital sources.

"The hospital received four bodies and 30 injuries and residents have started giving blood," said Dr Mohammed Fadel at Samarra General Hospital.

[read more]

Punks for Bush 

The Guardian, July 7:
... There is one tattooed, mohawked New Yorker who knows how to outrage the punk scene: Nick Rizzuto - and he votes Republican.

End of Western Civ:
Bush camp reaches out
to broaden constituency

"Conservative punk is not generally what people think of when they hear of a punk," says Rizzuto. A smart, articulate 22-year-old, he founded the Conservative Punk website six months ago, and has since received hate mail from disgusted punks, excited phone calls from the Republican party and intrigued coverage from the US media. To his critics he's a crank bringing punk's good name into disrepute - but to his supporters he's the fearless voice of a formerly silent minority. ...

[read more]

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Media Mayhem Welcomes NIPR.mil! 

Yikes! Web surfers from NIPR.mil dropped by Media Mayhem twice today, spending about six or seven minutes trolling through five pages of my blog.

And the spooky visit came before I blogged about Rep. Mark Kirk being a CIA agent.

According to unconfirmed web reports:

Nipr.mil is not a single domain a but a hush-hush web proxy that acts as a gateway for hundreds of U.S. military domains in order to hide their identities. It was established by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) in response to a memorandum (CM-5 1099, INFOCOM) issued in March 1999 by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling for "actions to be taken to increase the readiness posture for Information Warfare." "Uncontrolled Internet connections," the document says, "pose a significant and unacceptable threat to all Department of Defense information systems and operations."

[read more]

Lost in Translation: CACI's Strategic Communications  

Tired of eating rice and beans? Do you qualify as a CACI-grade communicator?

from the people who brought you Abu Ghraib:

The ability to collect, organize, analyze and distribute information is imperative to every aspect of operational success today. That’s why CACI Strategic Communications employs experienced research, communications and technology professionals who work together to help government and commercial clients achieve their information-based objectives.

CACI Strategic Communications specializes in five core service areas to develop programs that motivate, educate and inform your internal and external stakeholders

* Communications Services - powerful, persuasive, effective communications programs that enable government agencies and commercial companies to achieve their missions and core business objectives

* Recruitment Programs - attract talented applicants, secure additional funding for recruitment initiatives and demonstrate quantifiable, measured results

* Interactive Training - customized educational programs that help your employees improve their skills at anytime, from any location, at a fraction of the cost of classroom training

* Contact Centers - professional, efficient call center support, one of the best ways to win customer loyalty or keep employees productive

* Consulting - our management, policy, planning and projection services

[read more]

Flying in Style: Kirk Hitches Ride Back to D.C. on Air Force One 

Rep. Mark Kirk, who has a background with the CIA, and other members of the Illinois congressional delegation flew back to Washington, D.C. on Air Force One on July 22, 2002, after listening to President George W. Bush address an audience at Argonne National Laboratory.

The president's speech that day is archived at CACI's web site. CACI is one of the information technology firms implicated in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.

President Bush:
"... I appreciate Judy Biggert, Jerry Weller and Mark Kirk, fine members of the House of Representatives from Illinois being here today. I look forward to giving them a lift back to Washington. It's a nice way to travel. I think you all will like it. ..."

Kirk's Resume Includes a Stint in the Balkans 

a reference to Mark Kirk's earlier career as an intelligence officer.

from Techniques of a Coup d' Etat by John Laughland

... Perhaps the unidentified journalist is [Tim Marshall, a reporter for Sky TV and author of Shadowplay]. For one of the themes which inadvertently runs through his book, is that there is a thin line dividing the journalists and the spooks. We have observed this phenomena in Georgia, as Western newspapers do the work of the secret services by gushing with undiluted propaganda about the "hopes" the Georgian people have in their "young" new American-installed president.

Above all, Marshall makes it clear that in 1999, the USA’s State Department and its intelligence agencies decided to use the Kosovo Liberation Army to get rid of Slobodan Milosevic. He quotes one source, quoting Mark Kirk a US intelligence officer saying that: "Eventually we opened up a huge operation against Milosevic, both secret and open. We gave KLA both military, technical, officers as directors, logistical support, we smuggled drugs, ran prostitution rackets and murdered civilians, and blamed all this on the Serbs and Milosevic." ...

[read more]

Commander Kirk's Confession: "We fell in love with satellites ..." 

Rep. Mark Kirk's recent boast of working for the CIA came three days after a flattering story on this intelligence background appeared in USA Today.

The June 20 edition of McPaper published a story on Kirk and other lawmakers' intelligence careers. The accompanying headline for the story read: 'Spy Caucus' has 9/11 probe under surveillance.

USA Today reported that Kirk and several of his cohorts in Congress had espionage backgrounds.

One suggestion from a member of the "spy caucus" was to remove the restrictions placed on the CIA by laws passed after the domestic spying scandals of the 1970s, which were uncovered by the late Sen. Frank Church's Senate investigation and hearings.

On the other hand, Kirk, a lieutenant commander in the Naval Reserve, faulted the intelligence community for relying too much on space age technology and not enough on cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

"We fell in love with satellites," said Kirk, "which are very sexy and highly capable and easy for bureaucracies to manage."

[read more]

The Ryan Affair vs. Commander Kirk's Secret Mission  

Illinois' Sexed-Up Intelligence Gap

Last month, Republican senatorial candidate Jack Ryan quit the race, after his divorce papers revealed his ex-wife had alleged that he attempted to coerce her to have public sex at naughty clubs in New York and Paris. Ryan's ex-wife is actress Jerri Ryan of Star Trek Voyager fame.

Though the Ryan scandal made headlines nationwide, another Illinois political flap went mostly unreported.

That's because in Illinois, and elsewhere in the U.S., senatorial candidates are righteously condemned when allegations of sexual misconduct arise. But if you're a congressman who also brags about working for the CIA, your re-election is virtually guaranteed.

According to the Congressional Record, Illinois Republican Rep. Mark Kirk bragged to his colleagues on June 23 of working for the CIA. Kirk now says that the quote was a mistake. He says that he used to work for the CIA but doesn't any longer.

His Democratic opponent, Lee Goodman, has taken issue with Kirk's covert background, saying it is a conflict of interest for the congressman to work for the agency.

But chances are voters in 10th Congressional District in Northern Illinois don't really care whether their representative is a spook. On the contrary, having ties to the CIA is probably considered an asset by the majority of Kirk's constituents. After all, why shouldn't a publicly elected official use his position to spy in the service of this great country of ours?

Too bad for Ryan. He could have used the same ploy to explain his sexual escapades by claiming he was on a secret mission with his alien wife.

[read more]

Congressman and CIA Agent Mark Kirk Pushes World Bank on Iraq  

Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) attached an amendment to the House Appropriations bill in late June that would require the U.S. Treasury Department to keep tabs on whether the World Bank re-deploys staff to Iraq.

Kirk, who has admitted working for the CIA, is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

Kirk's amendment, which was attached to the $19.4 billion foreign aid bill, was an attempt to pressure the bank into dispersing international aid to Iraq through the bank's International Development Association.

[read more]

Congressman and CIA Agent Mark Kirk Met Bulgarian Envoy in June 

Sofia (Bulgaria) Echo, July 2:

The same month that Republican Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois boasted about being a CIA agent in front of his fellow congressmen, he met with the Bulgarian Finance Minister Milen Velchev to discuss the Iraqi debt owed to Bulgaria, according to the Sofia Echo.

Kirk's self-professed work for the CIA was recorded in the Congressional Record on June 23. The Bulgarian envoy met with American and Canadian officials during a North American visit that ended on June 13.

Call or write your CIA congressional liaison officer today:

Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), 1531 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515; 202-225-4835, fax: 202-225-0837; 102 Wilmot Rd., Suite 200, Deerfield, IL 60015

[read more]

House of Spies: Congressman Denies Working for the CIA 

Despite a statement by him in the Congressional Record, Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican from 10th District in Illinois, now denies that he works for the CIA.

Lee Goodman, Kirk's Democratic opponent in the northern Illinos district, is calling for the congressman to resign, citing an obvious conflict of interest.

“The conflict of interest is blatant and appalling,” said Goodman. “Congress has been struggling to investigate intelligence failures by the CIA and now it turns out Kirk is working for the CIA. No wonder Kirk voted not to investigate these failures after 9/11. He is working for the people who didn’t want to be investigated. Any high-schooler who has studied the separation of powers in U.S. history class would recognize the problem.”

Kirk made the following statement during congressional debate on June 23:

"To my knowledge, there are only three current members of Congress who work with the CIA: our chairman, the gentleman from Florida (Rep. Porter J. Goss), the author of this amendment; the gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. Simmons); and me, who is detailed to the CIA from navy intelligence."

Kirk is a Naval reserve officer. He now says he has worked for the CIA while at the U.S. State Department but not in his current capacity as a federal elected official.

[read more]

Freak Out: Anti-Malaria Drug Has Negative Side Effects on GIs 

Staff Sargeant Georg-Andreas Pogany, who the Army originally charged with cowardice, suffered panic attacks in Iraq due to taking an anti-malaria drug, a military doctor has concluded.

The drug, mefloquine hydrochloride, is manufactured by Roche under the brand name Larium. United Press International reporters Mark Benjamin and Dan Olmstead have been writing a series of articles on the controversial drug for the past two years.

Side effects of Larium include hallucinations and suicide. A story in this month's issue of GQ magazine examines Pogany's case and reports that there are numerous other cases, including homicides, which are suspected of being related to Larium poisoning.

[read more]

Shock and Gnaw: Study Shows High Levels of Stress Among War Vets 

CNN, July 1:

Nearly 20 percent of the combat veterans of the Iraqi and Afghan campaigns exhibit signs of depression and post-traumatic stress, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Forty percent of the military personnel who exhibit combat-related mental problems fail to seek professional help, according to the study.

The study follows earlier reports by Mark Benjamin of United Press International on an increasing number of mental cases, including suicides, among returning combat tropps at Ft. Carson, Col.

[read more]

Four More Marines Killed 

Four more members of the Marine 1st Marine Expeditionary Force were killed on Tuesday in fighting in the al Anbar province of Iraq, according to the Associated Press and Reuters.

The latest fatalities follow three the death of three Marines from the the same outfit on Monday.

[read more]

Army Locks Up Whistle-Blower in Mental Ward 

UPI, May 25

Washington -- The Army kept a soldier whistle-blower in a locked psychiatric ward at its top medical center for nearly two weeks despite concern from some medical staff that he be released, according to medical records.

The Army then charged him nearly $6,000 for the stay at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, billing records show.

"They are definitely retaliating against me," said Army Reserve Lt. Jullian Goodrum, a 16-year veteran of the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Doctors say Goodrum suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, or combat stress, from Iraq. Last summer Goodrum asked for an investigation into the death in Iraq of a 22-year-old soldier in his 212th Transportation Company. He was also quoted in a United Press International article about poor medical care at Fort Knox, Ky., that helped spark investigations in Congress. ...

[read more]

Iraqi Interim Government Declares Martial Law 

Rocket attacks in Baghdad, including one outside the headquarters of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's political headquarters, occurred as the interim Iraqi government declared martial law.

[read more]

Cheney Lied: 9/11 Commission Refutes Allegations of Saddam-al-Qaida Link 

The 9/11 Commission has refuted Vice President Dick Cheney's claims that Saddam Hussein had close ties to the al-Qaida terror network, wire services report.

The refutation came in a one-sentence statement issued Tuesday, which said the 10-member committee had access to the same sources as Cheney.

The Bush Bund used allegations of ties between Hussein and al-Qaida as one of its reasons to invade Iraq last year.

[read more]

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

A Smooth-Talking Southern Populist or Rich ... Trial Lawyer 

Associated Press campaign reporter Ron Fournier described Sen. John Edwards, the Dem's VP pick, alternately as a "rich former trial lawyer and rookie senator" and/or
"smooth-talking Southern populist."

AP editors deleted the first reference in later versions of the wire service story.

[read more]

Last Act: Bremer Decreed Horn-Honking Illegal in Iraq 

Robert Fisk, the Independent, July 4:

In his last hours as US proconsul in Baghdad, Paul Bremer decided to tighten up some of the laws that his occupation authority had placed across the land of Iraq.

He drafted a new piece of legislation forbidding Iraqi motorists to drive with only one hand on the wheel. Another document solemnly announced that it would henceforth be a crime for Iraqis to sound their car horns except in an emergency. That same day, three American soldiers were torn apart by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad, one of more than 60 attacks on US forces over the weekend. And all the while, Mr Bremer was worrying about the standards of Iraqi driving.

It would be difficult to find a more preposterous - and chilling - symbol of Mr Bremer's failures, his hopeless inability to understand the nature of the débâcle that he and his hopeless occupation authority have brought about. It's not that the old "Coalition Provisional Authority" - now transmogrified into the 3,000-strong US embassy - was out of touch. It didn't even live on Planet Earth. Mr Bremer's last starring moment came when he departed Baghdad on a US military aircraft, with two US-paid mercenaries - rifles pointed menacingly at camera crews and walking backwards - protecting him until the cabin door closed. And Mr Bremer, remember, was appointed to his job because he was an "anti-terrorist" expert. ...

[read more]

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