Friday, July 16, 2004

CACI Rewarded for Its Interrogation Work 

The Pentagon awarded CACI a $75 million contract yesterday.
Financial Times,  May 7, 2004:
CACI International, a rising star in the defence contracting business, boasts about its proficiency in information technology, knowledge management and other New Economy-sounding specialties.
Nowhere in its promotional materials, however, does the Virginia-based company mention its prisoner interrogation services.This week, Jack London, CACI's chief executive, was forced to explain those activities after an internal US army report implicated its interrogation specialists in the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib near Baghdad.
The report, concluded in February, called for one CACI worker to be dismissed and another to lose his security clearance. While the images of prisoners being abused - more of which emerged yesterday - have provoked outrage around the world, the scandal has also come as a shock in the defence and intelligence communities, where few were aware that the army had been outsourcing interrogation."
I'm surprised at the extent of it," a former CIA official said. "Like a lot of people, I had no idea."He and others expressed dismay that the army would entrust such a sensitive task to the private sector, which is not subject to the same military legal code or chain of command. As evidence of this, they noted that while six US soldiers were now facing courts martial, no contractors had been charged.
Mr London told the Financial Times he had received no official notification of the army report into abuses at Abu Ghraib and that CACI was thus unable to determine whether any of its employees had been involved in abuses. However, he was "appalled" at the allegations in the report, and would take appropriate action if they were proven.
In the meantime, however, he was not willing to shed much light on CACI's involvement in the interrogation business. CACI inherited the interrogation work from a company it acquired last year - Premier Technology Group - he said, and it amounted to less than 1 per cent of its overall revenues. He declined to say how many interrogators CACI employed, characterising them as "one element of that portfolio, broadly categorised as data collection".
A former investment banker who covered defence companies said it was typical of them to describe activities in such opaque terms. "We asked about those sorts of things, but then they would say that it was classified, and that it would compromise national security."
Premier's founder, Rajiv Bajwa, contacted at his home in Fairfax, Virginia, directed all inquiries to CACI.The outsourcing of interrogation appears to be a result of the Pentagon's broader drive over the last decade to privatise tasks ranging from meal service to mail delivery in order to save money and free up troops for combat.This trend coincided with deep Congressional cuts in intelligence spending in the 1990s. "There certainly wasn't any great request for interrogation after the cold war," said Vincent Cannistraro, former CIA chief of counter-terrorism. "I'm sure the inventory of these people wasn't great."
Washington Post, Oct. 20, 2003:
...London and his company have been willing to pay premiums for companies that cater to coveted intelligence clients. In May, CACI spent $49 million on Premier Technology Group Inc., a Fairfax firm founded by former military intelligence analysts that has annual revenue of $43 million. It was the only company CACI bought in the past 14 months whose price was more than the target's annual revenue.
Even Premier Technology Group was not considered an elite intelligence contractor, Knop said, because it did not do work for the Central Intelligence Agency or the National Reconnaissance Office. Companies working for pure intelligence agencies would command even higher premiums, he said. Premier Technology Group was also smaller than the companies most in demand and that CACI now wants.  ...

The Other Woman General Involved in Abu Ghraib 

Baltimore Sun, July 15:
by Tom Bowman

Among the handful of Army officers facing scrutiny in the investigation of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast is perhaps the least known, but among the most important.
Fast, 50, the senior intelligence officer in Iraq, was the key conduit for orders and information that related to Abu Ghraib, which she visited frequently, including the infamous cellblocks 1A and 1B, where abuses took place.A civilian interrogator at the prison wrote that she was involved in CIA access, and Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who was the overall commander of military police at the facility, said Fast was aware of a Red Cross report revealing wrongdoing at the prison three months before the scandal broke.
Fast approved the order putting Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of a military intelligence brigade at Abu Ghraib in overall command of the prison. She prodded him for fresh information from detainees so insistently that he remarked, "It's worse than a root canal," Karpinski said.Fast also installed Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, an aggressive interrogator who said that he "only reported to her," said Army officers and soldiers who served with Fast in Iraq.
Pappas, Jordan and some of the civilian interrogators have since been singled out in an Army report by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba for being "either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib."The two officers have been reprimanded.
Fast, whose career has ascended rapidly, has been given a plum assignment when she leaves Iraq next month: commander of the Army's intelligence center and school at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., where she served a brief tour as assistant commandant. ...

[read more]

Cheney Rumors Abound -- but French Probe Is Ignored 

The New York Times reports on rumors of Bush dropping Cheney. The latest gossip is about Cheney's doctor being a drug addict. ...
The dismissed physician, Dr. Gary Malakoff, who four years ago declared that Mr. Cheney was "up to the task of the most sensitive public office" despite a history of heart disease, was dropped from Mr. Cheney's medical team because of an addiction to prescription drugs. ...
What still isn't being reported widely in the States is that Cheney is under investigation in France over a Halliburton bribery scheme in Nigeria, when Dick was CEO of the company.

[read more]

Busted for Wearing an Anti-Bush T-Shirt 

Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette,
by Tara Tuckwiller
A husband and wife who wore anti-Bush T-shirts to the president’s Fourth of July appearance aren’t going down without a fight: They will be represented by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union as they contest the trespassing charges against them Thursday morning in Charleston Municipal Court.

Police took Nicole and Jeff Rank away in handcuffs from the event, which was billed as a presidential appearance, not a campaign rally. They were wearing T-shirts that read, “Love America, Hate Bush.”

Spectators who wore pro-Bush T-shirts and Bush-Cheney campaign buttons were allowed to stay.

“We weren’t doing anything wrong,” said Jeff Rank. The couple, who said they had tickets just like everybody else, said they simply stood around the Capitol steps with the rest of the spectators.

“We sang the national anthem,” Rank said.

The Ranks hardly fit the image of rabble-rousers. Jeff Rank, 29, has a master’s degree in oceanography. Nicole Rank, 30, has degrees in biological science and marine biology. They have been married for seven years. ...

[read more]

Bobby Fischer Nabbed 

Associated Press, July 16:

Former world chess champion Bobby Fischer, wanted since 1992 for playing a tournament in Yugoslavia despite U.N. sanctions, was detained in Japan for an apparent passport violation and will be deported to the United States, media reports said. ...

[read more]

Go North, Young Man 

More U.S. high-tech jobs are expected to be outsourced to foreign countries in the near future, but the culprit is not India -- it's Canada, reports Slashdot.com.

[read more]

Data Missing at Los Alamos 

BBC, July 17:
One of America's largest nuclear weapons research laboratories has suspended its activities after secret information went missing.
Officials are not saying what data has disappeared from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, but it is thought to be highly sensitive. ...

As yet there is no evidence of any deliberate act to steal the data at Los Alamos - probably CDs - which was reported missing last week from a unit known as the Weapons Physics Directorate. ...

[read more]

Congresswoman Calls Bush's "Election" a Coup d' Etat 

Everybody who's not braindead knows by now that Bush stole the 2000 election. But when Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida spoke the truth on the floor of the United States Congress yesterday, her comments were stricken from the record and she was censured by the Republican majority. 
Brown was supporting legislation that would require an international body oversee the U.S. presidential election in November.
KTLV -- NBC (Jacksonville, Fla.), July 16:
.... Representative Brown said, "I come from Florida, where you and others participated in what I call the United States coup d'etat. We need to make sure that it doesn't happen again. Over and over again after the election when you stole the election, you came back here and said get over it. No, we're not going to get over it and we want verification from the world."
Those comments drew an immediate objection from Republican members of the House. Leaders moved to strike her comments from the record. The House also censured Brown which kept her from talking on the House floor for the rest of the day. ...


[read more]

The Minister of Fear Advises Us to Remain Calm 

Minister of Fear Tom Ridge warns voters in battleground states to remain calm even though the presidential election may be postponed.

[read more]

Two Witnesses Claim Allawi Murdered Six Prisoners  

Three Australian news outlets are reporting that Iyad Allawi, the Iraqi interim prime minister allegedly shot and killed six blindfolded and handcuffed prisoners.
The Age (Australia), July 17:
by Paul McGeough

Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad major crimes unit just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim Government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the executions.

They say the prisoners - handcuffed and blindfolded - were lined up against a wall in a courtyard next to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amriyah security centre, in the city's north-western suburbs.
They say Dr Allawi told onlookers that the victims had each killed as many as 50 Iraqis and they "deserved worse than death".

The Prime Minister's office has denied the entirety of the witness accounts in a written statement to The Age, saying Dr Allawi had never visited the centre and he did not carry a gun.
But the informants told The Age that Dr Allawi shot each young man in the head as about a dozen Iraqi policemen and four Americans from the Prime Minister's personal security team watched in stunned silence.

Iraq's Interior Minister, Falah al-Naqib, is said to have looked on and congratulated him when the job was done. The Interior Minister's office has issued a denial. ...

[read more]

Allawi Executed Prisoners, Aussie TV Reports 

Australian Broadcasting Corporation,  July 17, 2004:

Iraqi PM Iyad Allawi has been accused of executing prisoners.

Iraq's interim Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, has been accused of shooting seven Iraqi insurgents, killing six of them, in the week leading up to the handover of power from the US last month.
Two unnamed people alleged to have seen the shootings have told Australian journalist Paul McGeough that Dr Allawi shot the insurgents in a courtyard adjacent to a maximum security cell in Baghdad.

Dr Allawi's office has denied the claims.

A written statement to McGeough says Dr Allawi has not visited the prison and does not carry a gun.

But McGeough stands by his claims. He says he cannot name the witnesses but says neither knows the other has spoken to him about the allegations.

"The Prime Minister is said to have responded that they deserved worse than death, that each was responsible for killing more than 50 Iraqis each and at that point he is said to have pulled a gun and proceeded to aim at and shoot all seven," McGeough told ABC TV's Lateline.

"Six of them died. The seventh, according to one witness, was wounded in the chest [but] according to the other witness was wounded in the neck and presumed to be dead."
McGeough works for Fairfax newspapers and his claims have been published in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age this morning. ...

[read more]

Hersh: "Your Government at War" 

London Indedpendent, July 16:
Secret film shows Iraq prisoners sodomised

by Charles Arthur

Young male prisoners were filmed being sodomised by American soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, according to the journalist who first revealed the abuses there.
Seymour Hersh, who reported on the torture of the prisoners in New Yorker magazine in May, told an audience in San Francisco that "it's worse". But he added that he would reveal the extent of the abuses: "I'm not done reporting on all this," he told a meeting of the American Civil Liberties Union.

He said: "The boys were sodomised with the cameras rolling, and the worst part is the soundtrack, of the boys shrieking. And this is your government at war."  ...

[read more]

Allawi Allegedly Executed Insurgents 

We already know the interim prime minister of Iraq participated in a car-bombing campaign for the CIA in the 1990s. This fits the profile.
Sydney Morning Herald, July 17:

Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings.

They say the prisoners - handcuffed and blindfolded - were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security centre, in the city's south-western suburbs.
They say Dr Allawi told onlookers the victims had each killed as many as 50 Iraqis and they "deserved worse than death".

The Prime Minister's office has denied the entirety of the witness accounts in a written statement to the Herald, saying Dr Allawi had never visited the centre and he did not carry a gun.

But the informants told the Herald that Dr Allawi shot each young man in the head as about a dozen Iraqi policemen and four Americans from the Prime Minister's personal security team watched in stunned silence.

[read more]

See No Evil 

Alternet, July 14:
Taking Turkey as the focal point and with a start date of 1998, it is easy to speculate why Sibel Edmonds indicated that there was a convergence of US and foreign counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism and US national security and economic interests all of which were too preoccupied to surface critical information warning Americans of the attacks of September 11, 2001. After all, who would have believed drug runners operating in Central Asia? And besides, President Clinton was promoting Turkey, one of the world's top drug transit points, as a model for Muslim-Western cooperation and a country necessary to reshape the Middle East.

The FBI's Office of International Operations, in conjunction with the CIA and the US State Department counter-narcotics section, the United Kingdom's MI6, Israel's Mossad, Pakistan's ISI, the US DEA, Turkey's MIT, and the governments and intelligence agencies of dozens of nations, were in one way or another involved in the illicit drug trade either trying to stop it or benefit from it. What can be surmised from the public record is that from 1998 to September 10, 2001, the War on Drugs kept bumping into the nascent War on Terror and new directions in US foreign policy. ...

[read more]

Woolsey Linked to Bogus Intelligence Scandal 

Detroit Free Press, July 16:
by Jonathan S.  Landay and Warren P. Strobel

A former CIA director who advocated war against Saddam Hussein helped arrange the debriefing of an Iraqi defector who falsely claimed that Iraq had biological-warfare laboratories disguised as yogurt and milk trucks.

By using his contacts, R. James Woolsey provided a pipeline to the Pentagon -- that bypassed the CIA -- for Maj. Mohammad Harith's information. For years, the CIA had been highly distrustful of the exile group that produced Harith.

Woolsey's previously undisclosed role in Harith's case casts new light on how prominent invasion advocates outside the government used ties to senior officials in the Bush administration to help make the case for war.

Woolsey's role as a go-between was detailed in a classified Defense Department report chronicling how Harith's assertion came to be included in the Bush administration's argument for war even after the defector was determined to be a fabricator.

A senior U.S. official summarized portions of the report on condition of anonymity because it is top secret. The report said that on Feb. 11, 2002, Woolsey telephoned Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Linton Wells about Harith and told him how to contact the man, who had been produced by an Iraqi exile group eager to oust Hussein. Wells said he passed the information to the Defense Intelligence Agency or DIA. ...

[read more]

Leveling the Playing Field: NYT Just Another URL in Cyberspace 

Wired News, July 14:
by Adam L. Pendenberg
...  (R)ecently, when I googled the terms "Iraq torture prison Abu Ghraib" -- certainly one of the most intensively covered news stories of the year -- the first New York Times article was the 295th search result, trailing the New Yorker, Guardian, ABC and CBS News, New York Post, MSNBC, Slate, CNN, Sydney Morning Herald, Denver Post, USA Today, Bill O'Reilly on FoxNews and a host of others news sites.
What's more, tons of other non-traditional news sources came ahead of the Times, including a number of blogs and low-budget rabble-rousers like Antiwar.com, CounterPunch, truthout and Beliefnet (a site dedicated to spirituality). So did Al-Jazeera (twice).  ...


[read more]

Summer Reading: CACI Backgrounder 

Were the torture images just a hobby for boondock reservists or were there higher-ranking voyeurs further up the food chain? Why would an information technology company employee even be at Abu Ghraib?
The simplest answer: to relay digital information on the "interrogations" to the Pentagon and White House.

Information is Power

Hoover's online, June 2004

Three Ballston Plaza, 1100 N. Glebe Rd.  
Arlington, VA, 22201  

TELEPHONE: 703-841-7800  
FAX: 703-841-7882
   CACI International knows how to support a government. The company is among the largest government information technology contractors, providing a wide range of services including systems integration, network management, software development, and engineering and simulation services. CACI also develops marketing software and databases for sales tracking, demographics reporting, and other market analysis applications, and it provides debt management and litigation support services. Contracts with the US Defense Department account for about 64% of its annual revenues.The company came under fire in early 2004, when CACI employee Stephen Stefanowicz, who worked as an interrogator at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, was accused of participating in the abuse of prisoners held there. CACI manages various facilities for the US Army under a blanket purchase agreement inherited when it acquired Premier Technology Group in 2003.
When the scandal broke out in May 2004, various government agencies, which together oversee the contract, launched an investigation to determine whether CACI should continue to assist the US Army in placing new interrogators in Iraq. The US General Services Administration decided in July that it wasn't necessary to suspend or disbar the company from contracts.In June 2004 the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit accusing the company of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, an obscure law created to target organized crime. The company deemed the suit frivolous. Meanwhile, Calpers (California Public Employees' Retirement System), which is one of CACI's largest shareholders, expressed concern about how the company handled the situation in a letter sent to CACI's management.CACI has plans to reach $ 1 billion in revenue in 2004 so it can better serve large clients such as the Department of Defense, which is increasingly trying to do business with a smaller number of large contractors.
The company plans on joining that select group by growing through acquisitions and by making technology services a high priority.Two of CACI's main clients are already part of the Department of Defense: the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and the Army's Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM). CACI also holds a significant GENESIS II contract with the United States Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM). In addition, civilian agencies such as the Department of Justice (CACI staffs its litigation support services and maintains an automated debt management system), the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Securities and Exchange Commission,  the Naval Warfare Systems Command's Naval Tactical Command and Support System, and the US Customs Services drive a large portion of CACI's revenues.
As part of its growth strategy CACI acquired C-CUBED Corporation in October 2003. C-CUBED provides specialized support services known as C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) to clients in the Department of Defense, federal, and intelligence communities.The majority of C-CUBED's 400 employees hold high-level security clearances. The company had revenues of $ 49 million in 2003.
In line with its strategy to ink more contracts with the Department of Defense, CACI acquired intelligence contractor Premier Technology Group, Inc., or PTG, for an undisclosed amount in mid-2003. PTG had revenues of $ 43.4 million in 2002. Most of its 360 employees hold high-level security clearances and are experts in intelligence analysis, information technology and security services, and logistics.Prior to PTG, CACI acquired IT service providers Acton Burnell and Digital Systems International, the Government Solutions Division of Condor Technology Solutions, and Applied Technology Solutions of Northern VA. Together, those five acquisitions were responsible for 35% of CACI's revenue growth related to contracts with the US Department of Defense.
CACI also acquired American Management Systems' (AMS) Defense Intelligence Group, which performs work for the Department of Defense and government intelligence agencies. The deal, valued at $ 415 million, happened when CGI Group acquired the entirety of AMS, and then turned around and sold part of it to CACI in May 2004. The acquisition makes CACI a likely bidder on government contracts worth up to $ 1 billion.
History -- In 1962 Harry Markowitz (winner of the 1990 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences) and Herb Karr formed California Analysis Center, which provided services related to the SIMSCRIPT programming language. The company went public in 1968 and four years later moved from Santa Monica, California, to the Washington, DC, area. Its name was changed to CACI in the late 1970s. J.P. London, a 12-year company veteran, became CEO in 1984. (He was named chairman in 1990.) Through the 1980s and early 1990s, CACI's dependence on a struggling military sector hurt operations. The company got a big boost in 1991, however, when it won a US Justice Department contract for litigation support services worth $ 130 million over five years. Profits were revived by 1995. The next year it won a $ 66 million subcontract to provide information processing support to VGS, a software integration firm charged with building a federal information processing program. In 1997 CACI gained a foothold in the government and commercial communications services segments when it acquired Infonet Services' Government Systems subsidiary. Also that year it bought AnaData (now CACI Ltd.), a UK-based database marketing software firm. In 1998 the company acquired QuesTech (now CACI Technologies), and CENTECH (network services and e-commerce) as well as the network services and related assets (Federal Services Business) of net.com.
Executives:Chairman, President, and CEO: J. P. (Jack) London, age 66,
$ 1,801,172; President, US Operations: L. Kenneth (Ken) Johnson, age 56, $ 1,292,806.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Dubya Does Baghdad 

In response to the success of Fahrenheit 9/11, Disney has rushed the completion of its war epic, which includes a love triangle among Condi, Colin and the Prez!

The Mexican Connection 

Carlos and Poppy

St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial, July 27, 1997:

The drug trade was not an issue in Mexico's recent elections. Other issues, most notably democracy itself, were front and center. At some point, though - preferably sooner than later - Mexico will have to take a hard look at drugs and the corruption inevitably associated with drug money. Otherwise its fledgling democracy may be compromised, as Colombia's has been. Its relations with its neighbor to the north also could become severely strained.

Dealing with drugs has to be a two-way street. For its part, over the past few years, the United States has tended to overlook the increasing evidence that the drug lords have seriously corrupted Mexico's local and national governments and law enforcement system. Both the Bush and the Clinton administrations were eager to push the North American Free Trade Agreement - and the image of a new Mexico led by a forward-looking, U.S.-educated, technocratic elite. Evidence that suggested a contrary reality was dismissed.

Now that contrary reality is becoming inescapable. A crusading publisher, Benjamin Flores Gonzales, investigating the drug trade was recently shot down in front of his newspaper. A judge has cleared the head of the Sinaloa drug cartel on nine counts of murder. The impunity with which drug moguls act and then escape either arrest or punishment indicates a law enforcement system in which too many, from the cops to the judges, are on the take.

The corruption extends ever upward. The former drug czar, Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, had an impressive record of drug arrests, but the only people he arrested were the rivals of his drug lord "boss," Amado Carrillo Fuentes, who was apparently liposuctioned to death this month. The New York Times reported earlier this year that two Mexican governors may also have been on Carrillo's payroll. Former Deputy Attorney General Mario Ruiz Massieu and Raul Salinas de Gortari, the brother of former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, are both suspected of profiting from bribes from drug lords.

For Mexico, social stability is threatened by violence directed against honest police, prosecutors and journalists and a lack of confidence in the integrity of the political and legal system.

For the United States, the drugs' destination, the consequences are also troubling. Certainly, drug interdiction efforts are compromised when its Mexican partners are on the cartels' payrolls. In addition, The New York Times reports that evidence in some important drug cases may be inadmissible in U.S. courts because it was obtained by illegal means.

Beyond drug interdiction, the United States also has reason to be concerned that the drug cartels seem to be centered in precisely those northern Mexican border states where free-market reforms, including U.S.-owned maquiladoras, are flourishing. NAFTA makes the border more permeable to all sorts of products, legal and illegal.

Mexico's move away from a one-party system may stem the influence of the drug cartels by diversifying Mexico's power bases. But the power of the traffickers, in Mexico and elsewhere, is an outgrowth of the seemingly insatiable American appetite for drugs. As long as the demand is there, the cartels will do their best to supply it.

Amigos: Salinas and Poppy  

For his 80th birthday last month, George H.W. Bush, the president's father, parachuted onto the lawn of his presidential library in College Station, Texas.

Among the spectator's watching Poppy's daring-do was his wife Barbara, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and former Mexican President Carlos Salinas.

Here's what the Government Accountability has to say about Salinas brother:

In recent years, GAO has issued a number of reports dealing with regulatory oversight of anti-money laundering activities of financial institutions. In 1998, GAO issued a report regarding Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network's (FinCEN) role in administering the BSA, which updated information on civil penalties for BSA violations. One focus was the Secretary of the Treasury's 1994 mandate to delegate the authority to assess civil money penalties for BSA violations to federal banking regulatory agencies. GAO noted that this delegation had not been made and said that FinCEN was concerned that bank regulators may be less inclined to assess BSA penalties and may prefer to use their non-BSA authorities under their own statutes. Also in 1998, GAO reported on the activities of Raul Salinas, the brother of the former President of Mexico. Mr. Salinas was allegedly involved in laundering money from Mexico, through Citibank, to accounts in Citibank affiliates in Switzerland and the United Kingdom. GAO determined that Mr. Salinas was able to transfer $90 - $100 million between 1992 and 1994 by using a private banking relationship structured through Citibank New York in 1992 and effectively disguise the funds' source and destination, thus breaking the funds' paper trail.

Raul Salinas, a Bush crony

Here's what Media Mayhem published on the Bushes Mexican exploits on Jan. 13:

Texas Crude: The Mexican Connection

When President George W. Bush meets Latin American leaders in Monterrey, Mexico this week for the Americas summit, he will be revisiting a country that has long played a part in his family’s oil interests.

In 1960, the current president’s father, George H.W. Bush, secretly orchestrated an illegal oil deal with a corrupt Mexican businessman. The deal involved Zapata Off-Shore Co., a Houston-based oil drilling concern founded by the elder Bush, and Permargo, a Mexican competitor with close ties to convicted felon Jorge Diaz Serrano.

After leaving Permargo, Diaz Serrano went on to head Pemex, the Mexican national oil monopoly. In 1983, Mexican prosecutors charged Bush’s former business associate with defrauding the government of $58 million by overpaying a Saudi-Arabian middleman for the purchase of two oil tankers. Diaz Serrano, who was once considered a likely candidate for the Mexican presidency, was ultimately convicted and served five years of a ten-year prison sentence.

By the time that Diaz Serrano was indicted, George H.W. Bush was serving as vice president in the Reagan administration. The elder Bush’s decision to run for president in 1988 prompted investigative journalist Jonathan Kwitny to write an article for Barron’s magazine about the earlier Zapata-Permargo deal. Unfortunately, Kwitny discovered that pertinent Security and Exchange Commission records on Zapata’s Mexican venture had been "inadvertently destroyed" during the early Reagan era. The missing files spanned from 1960 to 1966, the years when Bush was president and chief executive of Zapata Off-Shore operations.

Despite the missing data, Kwitny still managed to sketch an outline of Bush’s Mexican escapade based on Zapata’s annual reports and interviews with some principal players.

In a nutshell, Permargo was created as a front company so that Bush could take advantage of a lucrative off-shore drilling contract. Under Mexican law, foreigners were forbidden to have an interest in off-shore oil work. So Zapata enlisted Diaz Serrano and his Mexican cronies to camouflage its 50 percent interest in Permargo.

At the same time, Bush and his associates kept quiet about the deal here at home. Stockholders in Zapata, a publicly traded comp any on the American Stock Exchange, were never informed of the shadowy operation south of the border; and the few SEC records that haven’t been destroyed are mostly blank.

Permargo apparently was hatched at a meeting that took place in 1960 at the head quarters of Pemex, the Mexican national oil monopoly. Those participating in the talk were a high-ranking Pemex official, Diaz Serrano, and U.S. oilman Edwin Pauley, the owner of Pauley Pan American Petroleum Corp, which had an oil exploration agreement with the Mexican government.

Conveniently, Diaz Serrano was already a sales representative for Dresser Industries, a major U.S. oil equipment manufacturer. The late Prescott Bush, then-U.S. Senator from Connecticut, had previously been a board director for Dresser. Before founding Zapata, the senator’s son -- George H.W. Bush -- had worked for Dresser between 1948 and 1951, when he first moved to West Texas. Not surprisingly, when Diaz Serrano asked Dresser to assist Permargo, the company steered him to Bush.

Americans holding hidden interests in Permargo included oil executive Wayne H. Dean, a Zapata manager; and T.J. Falgout Sr., a major Zapata shareholder. Everybody involved in the secret deal treated each other as family, Diaz Serrano’s partner told Kwitny. According to Jorge Escalante, the family get-togethers often took place at the Houston Petroleum Club.

[read more]

Sole-Bidder, CACI, Wins $75 Million Navy Contract 

Privatizing War for
the 21st-Century

CACI, as most folks know by now, is one of the two private contractors accused of being involved in the Abu Ghraib torture. That didn't stop the Navy, however, from awarding CACI a contract today that may ultimately be worth more than $75 million. Although the proposal was sent to 32 prospective companies -- CACI was the only company that bothered to submit a bid. Sounds fishy to me.

from the Defense Department, July 15:

CACI Enterprise Solutions, Inc., Fairfax, Va., is being awarded a $14,039,827 cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for procurement of IT services in support of various Naval Systems Support Group (NSSG) and supervisor of shipbuilding (SUPSHIP) IT programs. The contract includes four one-year options, which if exercised, bring the total estimated value of the contract to $75,078,412. Work will be performed in Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Va. (95 percent) and Fairfax Va. (5 percent), and is expected to be completed by July 2005. Contract funds in the amount of $500,000 will expire by the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured through Electronic Commerce Online website, with 32 proposals solicited and one offer received. The FISC Norfolk Detachment Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (N00140-04-D-M927).

[read more]

Babbitt's Bro Runs for Congress in AZ 

Political State Report, July 14:

Paul Babbitt, brother of former Arizona Governor and U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, is running for Congress as a Democrat against first-term GOP incumbent Rick Renzi. Babbitt has a virtual lock on the nomination and is running in one of the most competitive districts in the country. Congressman Renzi is a notorious carpetbagger (his permanent residence is in Virginia, not Arizona) and won his last race, against fellow carpetbagger George Cordova, by less than 3% of the vote. Babbitt is a Coconino County Supervisor and former Flagstaff Mayor whose family has lived in the district for four generations.

On Wednesday, July 14, 2004, I sat down with Babbitt at his campaign headquarters in Flagstaff to discuss his campaign. ...

Click link below to read the interview.

[read more]

It's About Oil --- and -- Jingoism, Stupid 

The debate now raging among the blogigensia seems to be whether the regime now holding power in Washington invaded Iraq for its oil or out of some crazed vision of Pax Americana.

It's both.

You can't split the Bush Bund's ideological rationale for war from its quest for oil. They're one and the same.

Foremost, is Bush's cock-eyed idea that America has a divine destiny to convert the rest of the world to Western democracy. Of course, this is completely bogus to begin with because Bush himself was never even elected president. But that's beside the point. We're not examining reality but what's inside the heads of these morons.

Even if you choose to believe that these power mongers actually believe their own bullshit, it's impossible to dimiss the importance that oil played in the decision to go to war. Bush and Cheney are both oilmen. Iraq is the second largest oil-producing nation on earth.

So Bush and Cheney are using the neo-cons' rhetoric to justify not world conquest. They're not ideolouges like Wolfowitz, they're greedy pricks. Throw in the "terrorist threat" and you gotta recipe for eliminating the United States Constitution on top of it all.

All of which makes me wonder what's going on in the brain of the little old lady I saw driving down Hampton Avenue last night in a beat up Toyota with a Bush-Cheney sticker on her bumper.

It must be the "values" thing.

Bush Did This: The Loss of Life and Limb 

Garry Trudeau from the Rolling Stone interview:

You're focusing a lot on the war in Iraq. I've noticed that your military characters, like B.D. and Ray, sound like real soldiers. Have you been talking to the troops for research?

Yeah. During the first Gulf War, I'd meet them because they contacted me. This war is a lot easier, because it's an e-mail war. I hear from soldiers who are actually in the field. That changes all the rules of the game. They can't censor soldiers with laptops -- it's literally impossible. It's a way for somebody like me, sitting in this office, to get a view of what soldiers are experiencing.

What did you do to prepare for B.D. losing his leg in combat?

In the case of B.D. suffering this grievous wound, I went down to Walter Reed hospital, in Washington, D.C., to talk to some of the amputees. It's important to me to get the details of his recovery right. There's a great deal of pain on Ward 57, where the amputees are sent. Most of the soldiers will admit to having bad days when they feel overwhelmed -- either by their physical pain or by the hard work of looking at themselves in a new way. But it's not as depressing as you might think. In fact, it's uplifting and inspirational. Part of it has to do with the fact that these guys are wrapped in a culture that is very positive, very can-do. Their whole mind-set is: This is a problem I can overcome. Almost all of them want to return to their units, which is a fascinating response to the crisis they're undergoing.

from the Pentagram, July 9:

by Michael Norris

Wounded Soldiers React to Doonesbury

If you've been following the comic strip "Doonesbury" lately, you might have noticed a recent string of strips focusing on the travails of longtime character BD, a college football coach who becomes wounded as a reserve Soldier in Iraq.

Doonesbury has never shied away from controversial topics. Cartoonist Gary Trudeau has lobbed barbs at the president over his handling of the war, but the series on the personal experiences of a central character who has his leg amputated has been unusually poignant.

BD is depicted as getting wounded in Iraq, being medevaced to a German military hospital, and then proceeding on to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he is currently undergoing rehabilitation.

For the most part, Soldiers recuperating at Walter Reed said the strip mirrored their experience.

Sgt. Ray Mitchell, a Soldier in a light infantry unit with the 10th Mountain Division, said he's been a regular reader of Doonesbury.

"I try to catch the strip as much as I can. I really enjoy it, Mitchell said. "You have to bring reality into the world. People want to live in a happy-go-lucky world. Bringing reality into a comic strip is a good idea." ...

[read more]

Doonsebury Creator on Bush's Tortuous Days at Yale 

According to Garry Trudeau, Bush's fraternity was accused of branding pledges. When The New York Times inquired, Bush allegedly responded: "It was just a coat hanger, and ... it didn't hurt any more than a cigarette burn."

Associated Press,
July 14:

New York -- Cartoonist Garry Trudeau, who has skewered politicians for decades in his comic strip "Doonesbury," tells Rolling Stone magazine he remembers Yale classmate George W. Bush as "just another sarcastic preppy who gave people nicknames and arranged for keg deliveries."

Trudeau attended Yale University with Bush in the late 1960s and served with him on a dormitory social committee.

"Even then he had clearly awesome social skills," Trudeau said. "He could also make you feel extremely uncomfortable ... He was extremely skilled at controlling people and outcomes in that way. Little bits of perfectly placed humiliation."

Trudeau said he penned his very first cartoon to illustrate an article in the Yale Daily News on Bush and allegations that his fraternity, DKE, had hazed incoming pledges by branding them with an iron.

The article in the campus paper prompted The New York Times to interview Bush, who was a senior that year. Trudeau recalled that Bush told the Times "it was just a coat hanger, and ... it didn't hurt any more than a cigarette burn."

[read more]

Robert Kennedy Jr. on Bush's Environmental Policies 

Grist, July 13:

Is Bush's anti-environmentalism simply practical politics -- payback to corporate contributors -- or is it ideological?

Robert Kennedy Jr.: There's a history since 1980 of a link between [anti-environmentalism] and the fundamental Christian right (which I don't even consider Christianity but Christian heresy) called dominion theology. It's driven by people like James Watt, who claimed that the Bible justified environmental destruction in the same way that white people in the South used to claim that the Bible justified slavery. God gave man dominion over nature, and that means man should dominate and destroy nature. But of course other people read in the Bible myriad mandates that we care for nature. It is not ours to own but ours to keep as a gardener would keep for the owner, who is God. ...

[read more]

Libby, Montana 

A new documentary from Doug Hawes-Davis of High Plain films:

Through its Zonolite subsidiary, multi-national corporation W.R. Grace for years employed residents of the bucolic mountain town of Libby, Montana to mine and process vermiculite. Used widely in products from home insulation to potting soil, what W. R. Grace and government officials knew -- but failed to reveal to its workers or the citizens of Libby -- was that the vermiculite dust, which coated nearly everything in the town as a result of the industry, contained a particularly lethal form of asbestos.

Nearly 1500 people in the small town of Libby (pop. 4,500) have been diagnosed with some form of asbestos-related lung disease, and the U.S. Public Health Service estimates that approximately one third of the population has some type of lung abnormality. Asbestos exposure may still be occurring throughout the town - in homes, schools, playgrounds, and yards.

While the filmmakers documented the history of the town and the clean-up efforts of the federal government, the story grew beyond Libby as Congressional leaders in Washington, DC, began debating what to do about the millions of homes and businesses in the U. S. that still contain vermiculite from Libby.

Libby, Montana is a journey into a hard-working, blue-collar community that personifies the American Dream gone horribly wrong. Ronald Reagan, the Bush Administration, the E.P.A., Montana politicians and ordinary citizens of the small community of Libby all play a role in this American tragedy.

The film is the fourth feature-length project from Montana-based High Plains Films. It was produced, directed, shot and edited by Drury Gunn Carr and Doug Hawes-Davis and features an original score from Alabama musician Ned Mudd.

Libby, Montana will soon be released to theatrical, broadcast and educational markets.

[read more]

Texas Terror 

Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 29, 2003:

by Chris Axtman

began as a misdelivered envelope and developed into the most extensive domestic terrorism investigation since the Oklahoma City bombing.
Last month, an east Texas man pleaded guilty to possession of a weapon of mass destruction. Inside the home and storage facilities of William Krar, investigators found a sodium-cyanide bomb capable of killing thousands, more than a hundred explosives, half a million rounds of ammunition, dozens of illegal weapons, and a mound of white-supremacist and antigovernment literature. ...

"Without question, it ranks at the very top of all domestic terrorist arrests in the past 20 years in terms of the lethality of the arsenal," says Daniel Levitas, author of "The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right."

Mr. Levitas goes even further: "The government has a severe case of tunnel vision when it comes to domestic terrorism. I have no doubt whatsoever that had Krar and his compatriots been Arab-Americans or linked to some violent Islamic fundamentalist group, we would have heard from John Ashcroft himself." ...

[read more]

A Journey to the Center of Their Minds: Illinois GOP Woo Nugent  

I remember the first and last time I saw Ted Nugent. It was on a foggy, foggy night more than 30 years ago, when Nugent appeared at the Kiel Opera House in St. Louis. Scratch that. It was a smokey, smokey night. About the only thing I recall about his performance was the decibel level and Nugent's hyper-activity. At one point, he jumped from a wall of column speakers on to the stage floor wearing a loin cloth or maybe it was a diaper.

Nugent isn't a complete geek like Ozzy Osbourne, however. No, Ted, a loyal supporter of the NRA, doesn't eat live animals. He just likes to kill them and then eat the meat raw.

Ted Nugent for Senate

Mike Ditka, first
draft pick, declined

Having failed to draft former Chicago Bear's coach Mike Ditka, the Illinois Republican Party is now considering asking Nugent, the Motor City Madman, to run for the Senate, according to the Political Wire.

Are We Going to Re-Elect a War Criminal? 


"... What we had was a series of massive crimes, criminal activities by the president and the vice president. ... By this administration, anyway. I can say that. I can't say who did it. The only way to look at this is as war crimes. What happened there was war crimes ... We have to stop looking at it as some kind of acadmeic debate about the Geneva Convention. ... Are there people missing? ... Are we disappearing people? ...That's the way we have to look at it. -- Seymour Hersh speaking before the ACLU convention, July 7, 2004

[read more]

Seymour Hersh: U.S. Sodomized Children at Abu Ghraib 

Hersh comes out and says that those responsible for the torture include high-level administration officials, including President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Chency.

Click on the link below to view the streaming video of Hersh's speech before the ACLU on July 7. Hersh's speech begins at 1:07.

"... Basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys/children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror it's going to come out. ..." -- Seymour Hersh

[read more]

Wearing Your Peacemaker to Starbucks 

In the Wild, Wild East, Virginia Is for (Gun) Lovers;
"I'll have a decaf latte with skim, partner."

Washington Post, July 15:

On July 2, Fairfax County (Virginia) police received a 911 call from a Champps restaurant in Reston. Six men are seated at a table, the caller said. They're all armed.

Dispatchers quickly sent four officers to the scene. The officers were "extremely polite" and were hoping that some of the men were in law enforcement, said Sgt. Richard Perez, a spokesman for the police department. None was.

The men told the officers "they were just exercising their rights as citizens of the commonwealth," Perez said.

Turns out, packing a pistol in public is perfectly legal in Virginia. And three times in the last month, including at Champps on Sunset Hills Road, residents have been spotted out and about in the county, with guns strapped to their hips, exercising that right.

In the first episode, at a Starbucks, Fairfax police wrongly confiscated weapons from two college students and charged them with a misdemeanor. Police realized their mistake, returned the guns and tore up the charges the next day. Police commanders have since issued a reminder to officers that "open carry" is the law of the land in the Old Dominion.

[read more]

Sy Hersh: Bush and Cheney Guilty of War Crimes 

Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh speaking before the ACLU convention July 7:

Other than children being sodomized and the Pentagon missing a billion dollars in Iraq, Sy Hersh makes the point in his ACLU speech that the president and vice president of the United States committed war crimes.

from the Word Up blog:

Seymour Hersh says the US government has videotapes of boys being sodomized at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"The worst is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking," the reporter told an ACLU convention last week. Hersh says there was "a massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there, and higher."

(I transcribed some of his speech from this streaming site. Hersh starts at about 1:07:50.)

He called the prison scene "a series of massive crimes, criminal activity by the president and the vice president, by this administration anyway…war crimes."

The outrages have cost us the support of moderate Arabs, says Hersh. "They see us as a sexually perverse society."

Hersh describes a Pentagon in crisis. The defense department budget is “in incredible chaos,” he says, with large sums of cash missing, including something like $1 billion that was supposed to be in Iraq.

"The disaffection inside the Pentagon is extremely accute," Hersh says. He tells the story of an officer telling Rumsfeld how bad things are, and Rummy turning to a ranking general yes-man who reassured him that things are just fine. Says Hersh, "The Secretary of Defense is simply incapable of hearing what he doesn’t want to hear." ...

Hersh's speech starts at 1:07. Watch the video.

[read more]

Fox News on Fullajah: "Whatever Happens It is Richly Deserved" 

Culled from the Fox News memos released to the press by the makers of the documentary Outfoxed: Rubert Murdoch's War on Journalism

Into Fallujah: It's called Operation Vigilant Resolve and it began Monday morning (NY time) with the US and Iraqi military surrounding Fallujah. We will cover this hour by hour today, explaining repeatedly why it is happening. It won't be long before some people start to decry the use of "excessive force." We won't be among that group. . . More than 600 US military dead, attacks on the UN headquarters last year, assassination of Irai officials who work with the coalition, the deaths of Spanish troops last fall, the outrage in Fallujah: whatever happens, it is richly deserved. ...

[read more]

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Death and Taxes: Work Will Set You Free 

Well, we can always start robbing banks, I guess.

CNN/Money, July 14:

6 million may still lose OT pay: Study by Labor-Backed Group Says New Revisions to Work Rules Will Still Mean Lost Overtime for Millions.

by Andrew Stein

Revised changes to overtime rules proposed by the Bush administration will still fail to protect overtime pay for 6 million workers, according to a new study.

The Labor Department, however, dismissed the study as a "rehash of misinformation."

The Bush administration issued proposed changes to overtime rules last year, but then revised them in March after criticism from some labor groups.

The original proposal would have stripped overtime protection for 8 million workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), which studies issues affecting middle- and lower-income workers and receives funding from some labor groups.

But the revisions would still strip OT pay for about 6 million workers, EPI said in a study released Tuesday. ...

It's A Great Country, If You're a Millionaire 

Village Voice, July 13:

by Solana Payne

If they're not outright poor as a class, young adults in this country are at least very, very broke. The average collegian graduates with more than $20,000 in debt, headed for a job market where real hourly wages have kept pace with neither inflation nor the cost of living. Young adults are broke in part because of their unprecedented schooling—in the latest census figures, 28 percent of those between 25 and 29 reported holding a bachelor's degree—which promised to pluck them away from the constellation of problems plaguing America's underclass, whether it was trouble with housing or inadequate medical care.

Yet there they are, these latest inheritors of the American dream, lined up in emergency rooms for toothaches and the flu, not because they're having emergencies, but because they don't have health insurance, and emergency rooms, unlike private doctors, are obliged to give them care. Since 1987, the number of uninsured young adults has grown at twice the rate of older adults, even though the demographic itself is shrinking. One-quarter to one-third of adults under 35 went without insurance for all of 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available—an increase of 1.2 million from the year before. Half were uninsured for some part of 2002. Of the 43.6 million uninsured adults in the U.S., 41 percent are young. ...

[read more]

Mexican Attorney General Has Microchip Implant 

Reuters, Reuters

Mexico City --exico's attorney general said on Monday he had had a microchip inserted under the skin of one of his arms to give him access to a new crime database and also enable him to be traced if he is ever abducted.

Attorney General Rafael Macedo said a number of his staff had also been fitted with chips which will give them exclusive and secure access to a national, computerized database for crime investigators that went live on Monday.

"It's an area of high security, it's necessary that we have access to this, through a chip, which what's more is unremovable," Macedo told reporters. ...

[read more]

Is Fox Fair and Balanced? You Decide 

Documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald's new film Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, which interviews former FOX employees to provide "an in-depth look at Fox News [Channel] and the dangers of ever-enlarging corporations taking control of the public's right to know," premiered at the New School University in New York on July 13. The FOX News Channel markets itself as "fair and balanced," promising that "We report. You decide."
Media Matters for America

Documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald's new film Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, which interviews former FOX employees to provide "an in-depth look at Fox News [Channel] and the dangers of ever-enlarging corporations taking control of the public's right to know," premiered at the New School University in New York on July 13. The FOX News Channel markets itself as "fair and balanced," promising that "We report. You decide."

As The Washington Post reported on July 11, Greenwald's film features "a handful of memos from a top FOX executive that appear to suggest tilting the news." Media Matters for America has analyzed 33 such internal FOX memos, issued by FOX News Senior Vice President, News Editorial John Moody and Los Angeles Bureau Chief Ken LaCoste between May 9 and June 3, 2003 and March 12 and May 5, 2004.

In the memos, some of which appear in Outfoxed, Moody instructs employees on the approach to take on particular stories. His instructions reflect a clear interest in furthering a conservative agenda and in supporting the Bush administration. The Post quoted Larry Johnson, identified by the paper as "a former part-time Fox commentator who appears in the film," describing the Moody memos as "talking points instructing us what the themes are supposed to be, and God help you if you stray." On July 13, Salon.com reviewed the film, and provided "some of the most notable excerpts" from the memos, referred to as "marching orders" by Jon DuPre, whom Salon identifies as "formerly of Fox News." ...

[read more]

Sane Republicans See the Light of Fahrenheit 9/11 

Op-Ed News

by Keven J. Shay

... Natalie Sorton, a 25-year-old moderate Republican and wife of an infantryman who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, told The Fayetteville Observer in North Carolina, where Fort Bragg is, that the movie changed her opinion of the war in Iraq. "All this movie did was open my eyes a little more to what’s really going on," she said. "I think this is definitely going to have an impact on the election. I’m glad I’m a voter."

[read more]

The Unholy Trinity: Church, State and Right Wing Nuts 

ZNet, July 14:

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. ...

[read more]

Bush's Professional Mud Slingers 

Did you ever notice how the Republican all say the same phrases over and over, like they have the same microchip planted in their brains. They've all been programmed, of course, by "talking points."

The other side of this subterfuge is catching the other side saying something that might actually have some substance that can be used against him.

Take a look inside Bush's War Room, where Doublespeak is the language of the realm, and the spin doctors are poised to slam anything that comes out of Kerry's mouth.

The New York Times, July 14:

... After sitting impatiently through what seemed to be a typical stump speech, they found one: Mr. Kerry said he was "proud" of votes by him and his running mate, Senator John Edwards, last fall against the president's requested $87 billion appropriation for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a vote that Republicans have used to make a case that Mr. Kerry has been failing to support the troops after voting to authorize the war.

Within an hour or so, Mr. Bush's team, at the campaign's headquarters in a corporate office building in suburban Virginia, across the Potomac River from the White House, had sent a release via e-mail to hundreds of journalists, supporters and campaign surrogates. The e-mail message included the new quote and one from September, when Mr. Kerry implied it would be "irresponsible'' to vote against such spending. The quotation, along with the idea that Mr. Kerry's position on the money had evolved, found its way onto Fox News and into articles in The Washington Post, USA Today, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Associated Press. ...

[read more]

Kerry Picks Up Ground in Key Battleground States 

UPI, July 14:

Sen. John Kerry now leads President George W. Bush in 12 of 16 swing states, according to the latest Zogby poll.

The poll shows Kerry and Bush tied in Tennessee, where Bush had previously held a 18 point lead.

Overall, Kerry now leads Bush in electoral votes 322 to 205, according to the poll.

[read more]

Beware of Brown People Carrying Cameras 

When amateur photographer Ian Spiers started burning film at the Hiram Chittenden locks near Seattle, Homeland Security thugs swooped down on him. Meanwhile, all the caucasian shutterbugs continued to snap away. Spiers is half African-American, half Scottish. Because he is brown-skinned he looks like he might be Middle Eastern. In other words, he fits the profile of a terrorist in post 9/11 America.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Robert L. Jamieson takes a look at the racist aspects of the "war on terror.

[read more]

The Revolving Door 

The Los Angeles Times reports on how former CIA director James Woolsey and others have cashed in on their government service by representing organizations that profit from the Iraqi war.

Among those exposed as war profiteers by reporters Ken Silverstein and Walter F. Roche Jr. are some familiar names associated with Francis Brooke, BKSH & Associates, Rendon Group and Boxwood Inc. All doing their bit to keep America free and their bank accounts fat.

• Margaret Bartel, who managed federal money channeled to Chalabi's exile group, the Iraqi National Congress, including funds for its prewar intelligence program on Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction. She now heads a Washington-area consulting firm helping would-be investors find Iraqi partners.

• K. Riva Levinson, a Washington lobbyist and public relations specialist who received federal funds to drum up prewar support for the Iraqi National Congress. She has close ties to Bartel and now helps companies open doors in Iraq, in part through her contacts with the Iraqi National Congress.

[read more]

Bush and Lay Share Same Lawyer 

Who knows? Maybe Lay recommended Sharp to the president.

The New York Times,
June 5, 2004:

A Top Lawyer Who Kept Out of the Limelight, Until Now

by Michael Janofsky

James E. Sharp, the lawyer President Bush intends to hire if he is questioned in the case involving the disclosure of a C.I.A. officer's identity, may be one of the best lawyers in Washington the public has never heard of.

He is also a contributor to several Democrats, including John Kerry's presidential campaign.

In a legal career spanning nearly four decades, Mr. Sharp, who is 63, has represented his share of high-profile clients, including an author (Clifford Irving), a presidential friend (Bebe Rebozo), a presidential adviser (Jeb Stuart Magruder), a senator accused of bribery (Daniel B. Brewster of Maryland), a Filipino general (Fabian C. Ver) accused of murdering the president of his country and a fallen corporate leader (Kenneth Lay).

[read more]

A Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Business Executives for National Security 

I don't know about you, but I feel secure in their hands.

Business executives for National Security is a nation-wide, non-partisan, member-driven organization working to help make America safe and secure.

BENS members are senior executives who:

* Apply the lessons of successful business practices to help reshape and rebuild Americas military for the 21st Century;

* Bridge the gap between business and government in addressing new threats like suitcase bombs, cyberwar, and bioterrorists;

*Help the Pentagon, Congress and the White House develop new solutions to our national security challenges.

[read more]

Bamboozled: Douglas Feith and the Office of Mass Deception 

The guy named by the Senate Intelligence Committee last week as being most responsible for lying about the reasons for going to war none other than Douglas J. Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy. As it happens, Feith also headed the Office of Strategic Influence, the Pentagon propaganda office set up by the Bush administration after 9/11.

Feith relied on faulty intelligence from informants provided through Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress. Chalabi's group, which received $340,000 a month from the U.S., was handled by the Rendon Group, which had a contract with the Pentagon. One way or the other, the faulty intelligence ended up being published in more than 100 American newspapers, including the New York Times and Washington Post.

The lies, which had to do with weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein's alleged ties to al-Qaida, were used by the Bush administration to bolster congressional and public support for the invasion of Iraq last year.

In the following 2002 story from the New York Times, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney are both quoted as saying that information released by the government should be accurate and that the Bush administration would always tell the truth.

The New York Times,
February 21, 2002

A Nation Challenged: Hearts and Minds;
New Agency Will Not Lie, Top Pentagon Officials Say


Senior Pentagon and administration officials, responding to criticism of a new Pentagon office intended to influence public opinion overseas, said today that Defense Department officials would not be allowed to tell lies to promote American views.

"What people have to understand about this is very clear," Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said during a visit to troops providing security at the Olympics in Salt Lake City. "No. 1, government officials, the Department of Defense, this secretary and the people that work with me tell the American people and the people of the world the truth."

But Mr. Rumsfeld and other officials defended the Pentagon's need to conduct secret activities intended to deceive adversaries during times of conflict, including the current war on terrorism.

The new agency, the Office of Strategic Influence, was formed after the Sept. 11 attacks to coordinate disparate information operations geared toward assisting the military overseas.

It was set up, military officials said, because there was a sense among senior administration officials that existing agencies were not doing enough to counter anti-American propaganda, particularly in Muslim nations.

Though the office's mission and plans are still under review at the Pentagon, the program's director, Brig. Gen. Simon P. Worden, envisions projects in friendly as well as unfriendly nations, particularly in the Islamic world, military officials said.

General Worden has also proposed that the office coordinate activities from issuing public press releases to waging secret "information warfare." Such secret operations have in the past included the spreading of inaccurate or misleading information, invasion of computer networks and radio broadcasts that simulate local news programs.

Some senior officials at the Pentagon have argued that having one organization involved with both the "black" world of secret information operations and the "white" world of public affairs would undermine the Pentagon's credibility. Those critics also question whether the military should be involved in promoting American views in allied nations, a mission traditionally led by the State Department.

Today Vice President Dick Cheney echoed some of those concerns, telling reporters during a visit to Fresno, Calif., that the Pentagon should not use public information channels to disseminate false or misleading items as part of a military campaign against terrorism.

"Somebody has to clearly guard against confusing the two roles," he said. "The information that's provided to the public both here at home and abroad needs to be accurate, as accurate as we can make it."

Douglas J. Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy, who oversees the Office of Strategic Influence, said the Pentagon was still trying to define its mission.

"We have an enormous stake in our credibility, and we're going to preserve that," he told reporters at a breakfast meeting. "But we're not going to give up on the obvious usefulness of managing information of various types for the purpose of helping our armed forces accomplish their missions."

While he said American officials would not lie, he declined to rule out the possibility that the Pentagon might give outside contractors the authority to disseminate false or misleading information to foreign news agencies.

But the Pentagon later issued a clarifying statement saying, "Consistent with Defense Department policy, under no circumstances will the office or its contractors knowingly or deliberately disseminate false information to the American or foreign media or publics."

The Pentagon has hired the Rendon Group, a Washington-based global communications company, to assist the new office overseas. Executives with the Rendon Group say they are not allowed to discuss their contract.

In defending the nation's need to mislead enemies during war, Mr. Cheney, Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Feith all cited the same example: the campaign during World War II to make the Germans believe Allied forces were landing at Calais, France, instead of Normandy on D-Day.

"It's sometimes valuable from a military standpoint to be able to engage in deception with respect to future anticipated plans," Mr. Cheney said.

But critics say such campaigns would be far more complicated today, when information travels around the world almost instantaneously and when the lines between friendly and unfriendly nations have been blurred by the existence of globe-trotting terrorists with operations in scores of nations.

Even some top Bush aides expressed alarm today at the scope of the classified proposals that the Office of Strategic Influence had been circulating, and were taken aback by its Orwellian-sounding title.

"I wouldn't have picked that name," a senior administration official said.

WPP: DC's One-Stop Lobby Shop Goes Both Ways 

After the presidential election in November, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie has a job waiting for him.

Gillespie and his Democratic counterpart, Jack Quinn, are two polar-ends of Quinn Gillespie & Associates, PR firm that the two founded. Last December, the bi-partisan spin machine was acquired by WPP Group, the public relations conglomerate that also owns BKSH & Associates.

Readers of Media Mayhem may recall that BKSH & Associates reportedly employed Francis Brooke, the former CIA asset who handles Ahmed Chalabi. Brooke worked in Democrat Jimmy Carter's administration before going into spooky public relations work at BKSH, Rendon Group and Boxwood Inc. Brooke's boss at BKSH was Republican operative Charlie Black.

From out here in the Great Midwest, it looks like political party labels are just that.

Washington Post, December 11, 2003

by Judy Sarasohn

WPP Saving a Spot for Ed Gillespie

Quinn Gillespie & Associates has been acquired by communications conglomerate WPP, but there'll still be a home there after the 2004 elections for Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie.

The acquisition counts on it.

WPP announced the acquisition yesterday of the successful lobby shop that was founded in 2000 by Gillespie and Democrat Jack Quinn, former White House counsel to President Bill Clinton. According to the official announcement, Quinn Gillespie has 25 people and revenue of $12.5 million for 2002.

Gillespie, who is on leave while heading the RNC, and Quinn are staying at the firm as part of the deal.

Howard Paster, executive vice president of WPP, said no specific date for Gillespie's return has been set, but it's expected to be "a reasonable period after the election."

"He's on the team. It would be better for us if he was here this year," Paster said.

WPP, which also owns such lobby operations as Timmons & Co., Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates and BKSH & Associates, wanted to add Quinn Gillespie because "for our clients, the ability to have a range of [lobby options] makes sense," Paster said.

Quinn and Gillespie will control the company and report to Paster. Richard Powell, managing director of Quinn Gillespie, said "one of the thresholds" of the deal was "we wanted to be as independent as possible. . . . life won't change here."

Bush Eyes Carlyle Group Official for Army's Top Post 

San Francisco Chronicle, July 11:

by David Lazarus

President Bush was widely reported last week to be on the verge of nominating local boy Francis Harvey to serve as secretary of the Army. So let's meet the man who may soon be the newest player in the top ranks of the military-industrial complex.

Harvey, a Los Gatos resident, sits on the board of Bridge Bank of Silicon Valley and is a member of the board of regents of Santa Clara University. But it's a safe bet that neither of these gigs placed him in the running for the Army's senior civilian post.

More likely, it was Harvey's ties to the defense industry and the influential Carlyle Group that won him the Bush administration's favor.

Carlyle is a high-power Washington investment firm that counts among its leaders and advisers former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, former Secretary of State James Baker and, until last year, former President George H.W. Bush, who happens to be the father of the current president.

The firm figures prominently in filmmaker Michael Moore's controversial exploration of the Bush administration, "Fahrenheit 9/11."

Harvey's pending nomination as Army secretary was first reported last week by the New York Times, citing unnamed congressional officials. Similar reports subsequently appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and other news outlets. ...

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Gov of Mosul Killed in Ambush 

Reuters, July 14:
Gunmen killed the governor of the Iraqi city of Mosul and two of his bodyguards on Wednesday as he was driving in a convoy of vehicles toward Baghdad

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White House Stonewalls Senate Intel Committee 

New York Times, July 14:

The White House and the Central Intelligence Agency have refused to give the Senate Intelligence Committee a one-page summary of prewar intelligence in Iraq prepared for President Bush that contains few of the qualifiers and none of the dissents spelled out in longer intelligence reviews, according to Congressional officials.

Senate Democrats claim that the document could help clear up exactly what intelligence agencies told Mr. Bush about Iraq's illicit weapons. The administration and the C.I.A. say the White House is protected by executive privilege, and Republicans on the committee dismissed the Democrats' argument that the summary was significant.

The review, prepared for President Bush in October 2002, summarized the findings of a classified, 90-page National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq's illicit weapons. Congressional officials said that notes taken by Senate staffers who were permitted to review the document show that it eliminated references to dissent within the government about the National Intelligence Estimate's conclusions. ...

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Lord Butler in the Kitchen with the Candlestick 

Lord Butler's main findings were:

The 45 minutes claim was "unsubstantiated" and limitations of intelligence were not "made sufficiently clear" in September 2002 dossier

Key points of report

Intelligence was pushed to "outer limits but not beyond" and there was no deliberate distortion by politicians

JIC chairman John Scarlett should still take up post of MI6 chief - but future intelligence chiefs should be "demonstrably beyond influence"

There was an "over-reliance" on dissident Iraqi sources and human intelligence in general

Since the war key claims based on intelligence from agents in Iraq, including claims the Iraqis had recently produced biological agents, had had to be withdrawn because they were "unreliable"

British intelligence on the claim Iraq had sought uranium from Niger was "credible"

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Tuesday, July 13, 2004

They're Bad, They're Worldwide: Cohen and Fleishman-Hillard Sell American Way of Death 

Former Clinton Administration Secretary of Defense William Cohen, now an international consultant, has a business association with the Fleishman-Hilliard public relations firm.

Oct. 28, 2003

by Timothy Noah

... Added to these are some individual considerations. Both (Clinton administration National Security Advisor) Sandy Berger and (William) Cohen have a profit motive not to alienate the Bushies. Berger is co-chair (with Republican lobbyist Charles Black) of the Civitas Group, which helps companies win government contracts related to homeland defense. One of the firm's board members is Joe Allbaugh, who was Bush's gubernatorial chief of staff and until recently served as director of the Federal Emergency Management Administration. Cohen runs something called the Cohen Group, which helps "multinational clients explore opportunities overseas." One of the countries the Cohen Group does business in is Iraq. Also, Cohen's a Republican, albeit a moderate one. ...

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The Fleishman-Hillard Team of Switch Hitters 

Fleishman-Hillard: With more than 80 offices world-wide, St. Louis-based Fleishman is one of the largestfirms operating in D.C., and its public affairs practice isconsistently ranked at or near the top by Inside PR andThomas L. Harris/Impulse Research. Its InternationalAdvisory Board includes former Speaker Newt Gingrich(R-Ga.), former Clinton Chief of Staff Leon Panetta,former Defense Secretary William Cohen and formerU.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor.1615 L St. N.W., Suite 1000 (202) 659-0330

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Former Defense Secretary William Cohen's Strategic Alliance with Fleishman-Hillard PR Firm 

The New York Times, May 23, 2001

Trading on Their Names;
Turning Government Experience Into Corporate Advice

by Leslie Wayne

The promotional materials say it all: William S. Cohen, the former defense secretary, is shown chatting with King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, sharing a smile with Nelson Mandela, standing shoulder to shoulder with President Jiang Zemin of China and in a "grip and grin" pose with President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, resplendent in his African robes and dark sunglasses.

The brochure is to announce the Cohen Group, a new consulting firm, which is trying to sell nothing so much as Mr. Cohen and his relationships around the globe. After meeting with world leaders in his 18 years as a Republican senator from Maine and his 4 years in the Clinton cabinet, Mr. Cohen is bringing his wealth of contacts and experience to bear for American corporations -- for a price.

Hoping to follow in the footsteps of Henry A. Kissinger, who started a consulting firm and made millions, and former President George Bush, who is a senior adviser to the Carlyle Group, a Washington investment firm, Mr. Cohen is selling his insights, door-opening skills and star power in a new twist on Washington's revolving door between government service and private gain.

It is not lobbying exactly ... For lack of a better term, it is called international strategic consulting. ...

Mr. Cohen, who started his firm with three other Pentagon officials two days after leaving office in January, said he was already dealing with "major major" business leaders. ...

In its first 100 days, the Cohen Group has been brought in to help an American manufacturer untangle problems in getting payments from its operations in Macedonia, is working with an aviation company seeking a Chinese partner, is helping another manufacturer close a deal in Oman and is advising a telecommmunications company on projects in Brazil and Chile. ...

"It's globalized influence peddling and lobbying," said Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit research group in Washington. "They are getting rich from the public trusts they held and are making money from their celebrity, not just in Washington, where it is the traditional thing to do, but internationally. These are senior advisers who have worked for years with the president and are well known. They have incredible cachet all over the world and are basically taking that to the bank."

In the case of Mr. Cohen, not only is he working for himself but he has entered into an array of strategic alliances, as he calls them, with other firms -- becoming the center of a hub-and-spoke system of business connections. He has strategic alliances with McDermott, Will & Emery, the nation's 10th-largest law firm; Fleishman-Hillard, a public relations firm; and Thayer Capital Partners, a private equity group, which is headed by Fred Malek, a former aide to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush.

Mr. Cohen is also looking to add an investment bank and a hedge fund to provide one-stop shopping. In each of these affiliations, the idea is for the firms to work jointly on projects and to steer business to one another.

McDermott has retained the Cohen Group to offer advice to McDermott clients and to help with marketing. Next month, Mr. Cohen will hold a Silicon Valley seminar for potential clients in which he and Floyd Kvamme, a longtime venture capitalist who is advising President Bush on technology issues, will speak on "Navigating Washington -- and the World."

Last week, 80 potential McDermott clients in Washington met with Mr. Cohen and his guest, Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who once worked for Mr. Cohen in the Senate, to discuss opportunities in the military contracting business. ...

Is It a Far Cry from the CIA? Fleishman-Hillard's Division of Competitive Intelligence 

Private mercenaries fighting U.S. imperial wars, and private spies coordinating the intelligence -- two factors of the same equation.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 13, 2001:

by Peter Shinkle

It's a far cry from the CIA, but public-relations giant Fleishman-Hillard Inc. on Tuesday unveiled a new unit to offer competitive intelligence to corporate America.

The field of competitive intelligence has grown sharply in recent years, as major management consulting firms have jostled with smaller boutiques to offer an array of products and services.

Yet, exactly what competitive intelligence is depends largely on whom you ask. It can range from analyzing news media accounts to determine the impact of a client's ad campaign to sifting through public records for tips on a competitor's manufacturing processes.

On Tuesday, Fleishman-Hillard executives said their version of competitive intelligence, known as CI, has more to do with media analysis than gumshoe sleuthing.

"I tell people we are CI -- not CIA," joked Ronald Penoyer, a senior vice president who heads up the new unit with senior vice president Ronda Sauget.

Sauget said the St. Louis-based company's competitive intelligence unit focuses on using data bases and publicly available media to provide analysis aimed at helping clients develop business plans.

The unit, which includes 23 full-time employees in St. Louis, has 40 employees worldwide. The unit, which has been in development for more than a year, also has offices are in London and Hong Kong. Fleishman-Hillard, one of the world's largest public-relations firms, declined to identify clients of the new unit.

In one sign of just how fast the business is growing, the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals, a trade group, says its roster of dues-paying members has risen to 7,000 now from about 150 at the time of the group's founding in 1986.

Competitive intelligence professionals are quick to point out that they are not doing corporate espionage, and that they often mine information from publicly available documents.

The Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals has a code of ethics that requires a person collecting intelligence to identify himself and his employer before conducting an interview.

"Most people who conduct CI don't contact competitors," said Steve Miller, spokesman for the trade group. Instead, they turn to publicly available records, customers, vendors, suppliers, trade shows, patents and even filings with environmental agencies, he said.

Dan Davison, principal of St. Louis-based CI firm BentonsEdge LLC, said he is careful not to engage in espionage, though he is not shy about contacting a competitor's employees.

"We gain non-public information through conversations with industry players and directly with employees of the target industry. If someone chooses not to speak, that's fine with us," he said. "Better than 90 percent of the time, I get what I'm looking for."

Among the companies that do competitive intelligence are Boeing Co., which has its Military Aircraft and Missile Systems division headquartered in St. Louis.

"We're always monitoring our environment, which includes what and how our competitors are doing," said Boeing spokeswoman Jo Anne Davis.

GE's Tax Dodge 

Chances are Leno won't be cracking any jokes about this.

Washington Post, July 13:

No company in the nation had more to lose than General Electric Co. when the World Trade Organization decreed in 2002 that U.S. tax laws violated international treaties. The multinational conglomerate was saving hundreds of millions of dollars a year in taxes from the export subsidies that the United States had to discard.

But in a two-year campaign, fueled as much by brains as political brawn, GE has shaped the legislation that would replace the old export-promotion law in ways that would allow it to save as much, if not more, in taxes, according to both GE lobbyists and congressional aides. In pursuing its financial interest, the company may also have turned the U.S. corporate tax code away from domestic manufacturing and toward expansion of operations abroad.

"The bill is truly amazing," said Michael J. McIntyre, a tax law professor at Wayne State University and an expert on international corporate tax issues. "We had an incentive for exports that was illegal and had to be repealed. Now Congress takes the money saved by the repeal and uses it to reduce taxes on the income earned by U.S. companies in foreign countries, thereby making foreign investment more attractive than U.S. investment." ...

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Krugman: Delay's Greed Finally Catching Up with Him 

The New York Time, July 13:

by columnist Paul Krugman

... Here's the puzzle: if Mr. DeLay's brand of conservatism is so unpopular that it must be kept in the closet during the convention, how can people like him really run the party?

In Mr. DeLay's case, a large part of the answer is his control over corporate cash. As far back as 1996, one analyst described Mr. DeLay as the "chief enforcer of company contributions to Republicans." Some of that cash has flowed through Americans for a Republican Majority, called Armpac, a political action committee Mr. DeLay founded in 1994. By dispensing that money to other legislators, he gains their allegiance; this, in turn, allows him to deliver favors to his corporate contributors. Four of the five Republicans on the House ethics committee, where a complaint has been filed against Mr. DeLay, are past recipients of Armpac money.

The complaint, filed by Representative Chris Bell of Texas, contends, among other things, that Mr. DeLay laundered illegal corporate contributions for use in Texas elections. And that's where Enron enters the picture.

In May 2001, according to yesterday's Washington Post, Enron lobbyists in Washington informed Ken Lay via e-mail that Mr. DeLay was seeking $100,000 in additional donations to his political action committee, with the understanding that it would be partly spent on "the redistricting effort in Texas." The Post says it has "at least a dozen" documents showing that Mr. DeLay and his associates directed money from corporate donors and lobbyists to an effort to win control of the Texas Legislature so the Republican Party could redraw the state's political districts. ...

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Fate of Hostage Rattles Filipino Government 

Angelo de la Cruz, the Filipino truck driver now held hostage by terrorists in Iraq, worked for Kellogg Brown & Root.

Philippine Star editorial, July 13:

... We have long been hoodwinked to believe we are fighting for world peace and freedom – against terrorism – in joining America’s "awe and shock" invasion and occupation of Iraq. We ate off the hands of an America that told us if America did not invade Iraq and combat terrorism, then the consequence would be this: Iraq would obliterate America from the face of the earth with a lethal rain of weapons of mass destruction.

One highly prominent Filipino bought all that crap – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In the twinkle of an eye, she enrolled the Philippines in America’s war against Iraq. All of America’s charges against an Iraq scheming to destroy America proved to be utterly false. The US Senate itself just confirmed the lies after a thorough investigation. President George W. Bush had been stripped nude. Now Dubya bleeds incessantly. ....

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The American Foreign Legion 

Radio Netherlands, July 12

... Bosnians, Nepalese, Colombians, South Africans; the US has hired some 20,000 civilians from around the world to support its operation in Iraq. The deployment of civilian staff has markedly increased following the September 11 terrorist attacks. Sent out to so many of the world's hotspots, the US military has been stretched thin. The advantage of recruiting civilians is that they don't fall under US military law or Iraqi law. Besides, civilians don't count in the official death toll.

But the lack of control of these "mercenaries" has many human rights groups worried. After private interrogators were found abusing Iraqis in Baghdad´s notorious Abu Ghraib prison, the US defence department announced tighter rules of engagement for its plainclothes civilian staff. ...

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Homeland Security = Fascism 

The story of Elena Lappin's treatment when she landed at LAX this spring makes me think of how I would have felt if I received the same treatment when I traveled to Italy, England, the Netherlands, Canada and Trinidad in the last couple of years. In each country, I declared that I was there as a journalist. In each instance, the immigration officials allowed me into their respective countries with only a minimum of questioning. In Italy and Canada, they didn't even bother to stamp my passport.

Ninety percent of American citizens never leave the U.S. That's right -- 90 percent. Many of them don't travel abroad because they are xenophobic.

Does it make you feel safer when the U.S. government interrogates and locks up foreign reporters when they enter the country?

International Herald Tribune, July 13:

op-ed by Elena Lappin first published in The New York Times

Two months ago, I traveled from London to Los Angeles on assignment for a British paper, The Guardian, believing that as a British citizen I did not require a visa. I was wrong: as a journalist, even from a country that has a visa waiver agreement with the United States, I should have applied for a so-called I (for information) visa. Because I had not, I was interrogated for four hours, body-searched, fingerprinted, photographed, handcuffed and forced to spend the night in a cell in a detention facility in central Los Angeles, and another day as a detainee at the airport before flying back to London. My humiliating and physically very uncomfortable detention lasted 26 hours.

I've since learned that mine was not an isolated case: Since March 2003, when the Department of Homeland Security became responsible for immigration and border patrol, 13 foreign journalists were detained and deported in a similar manner in that year, all but one at the Los Angeles airport.

The visa requirement itself and the treatment of journalists by American authorities are deemed untenable by the American Society of Newspaper Editors and by Reporters Without Borders. Both organizations have sent letters of protest to Tom Ridge, who heads the Department of Homeland Security, as well as to Secretary of State Colin Powell and Attorney General John Ashcroft. ...

American journalists working abroad, especially in free countries, are not accustomed to monitoring of this kind. By requiring foreign journalists to obtain special visas, the United States has aligned itself with the likes of Iran, North Korea and Cuba, places where reporters are treated as dangerous subversives and disseminators of uncomfortable truths. ...

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