Friday, August 13, 2004

WP's "Howie" Kurtz Married to GOP Consultant 

I was listening to the Friday news roundup on public radio this morning, when Diane Rehm, the host, mentioned the name of a Washington Post reporter who penned yesterday's piece on the Post's less-than-critical coverage of the run up to the Iraq war.

She called him "Howie" Kurtz.

Howard Kurtz began his story by telling how fellow-reporter Walter Pincus had actually reported on the Bush administration's lack of evidence regarding weapons of mass destruction, but his view had met internal resistance. Kurtz claimed that assistant managing editor Bob Woodward came to Pincus' defense because of knowledge he had learned from the White House, while researching his best-selling book on the administration's decision to invade Iraq. Pincus' story managed to see the light of day, but it was, nevertheless, relegated to the back pages, wrote Kurtz.

The fact that Kurtz started back-peddling in a story that was supposed to cast a critical eye on the Post's shoddy reporting made me immediately question the purpose of running the piece.

Late yesterday, I responded to Kurtz's story, criticizing Pincus and Woodward of both coddling their high-level sources. After Rehm affectionately referred to Kurtz as "Howie," I decided to find out a little more about the cuddly columnist. It appears that Kurtz is married to Sheri Annis, a high-priced Republican operative, who has worked for Arnold Schwarzenegger among others. Earlier this year rumors circulated that Kurtz was inappropriately using his column to benefit his wife's Republican efforts.

Media Whores Online, Jan. 27, 2004:

Howard Kurtz Caught in Ethics Probe

"MWO has learned from highly informed Washington sources that Howard 'Mistah' Kurtz faces numerous dangerous charges of conflict-of-interest and influence peddling in his media column at the Washington Post...The charges stem from documented instances of Kurtz's involvement in what appears to be insider trading of information aimed at enriching his wife, GOP right-wing media consultant Sheri Annis...'No one has used the word 'fired' yet,' one source close to the investigation told MWO, 'but Kurtz better be watching his back.'...Developing"

[read more]

"Axis of Evil" #2 Enters Fray 

"And it's one, two three, four: What are we fighting for? Don't ask me, I don't give a damn, next stop is Tehran. ..." (ripped off from "I Feel Like I'm Fixing to Die Rag, with apologies to Country Joe McDonald)

Guardian, Aug. 13:

by Michael Howard

Baghdad -- Security officials in Baghdad were last night urgently investigating the background of 30 Iranians who were caught fighting for a rebel Shia cleric in Iraq, amid mounting concern over the involvement of the Tehran regime in the uprising.

The Guardian has learned that the most senior members of the Iraqi government were briefed about the capture of the men yesterday, and also told of other evidence that fighters and equipment have been crossing the border from Iran. ...

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"I'm Not Qualified" -- Porter Goss 

View the Michael Moore Video Clip

"I couldn't get a job at the CIA. I'm not qualified. ..." -- Porter Goss, Bush nominee to head CIA

Surprise! Rich Get Richer 

Anybody who votes for Bush who isn't a millionaire is an idiot. It's that clear and it's that simple, which means there are millions upon millions of idiots running loose in America at this very moment. That fact is much more a threat to the future of the nation than al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein put together.

New York Times, Aug. 13:

Fully one-third of President Bush's tax cuts in the last three years have gone to people with the top 1 percent of income, who have earned an average of $1.2 million annually, according to a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to be published Friday.

The report calculated that households with incomes in that top 1 percent were receiving an average tax cut of $78,460 this year, while households in the middle 20 percent of earnings - averaging about $57,000 a year - were getting an average cut of only $1,090.

The new estimates confirm what independent tax analysts have long said: that Mr. Bush's tax cuts have been heavily skewed to the very wealthiest taxpayers. Those are also the people, however, who pay a disproportionate share of federal income taxes. ...

[read more]

A Peek at Al-Qaida's Harddrive Confirms Bush Is Playing into Terrorists Hands 

Atlantic magazine, September 2004

by Alan Cullison

... The second dealer told me that he had serviced computers belonging to the Taliban and to Arabs in al-Qaeda. I forgot about my own computer problems and hired him to search for these computers. Eventually he led me to a semiliterate jewelry salesman with wide-set eyes and a penchant for gold chains. This was the man who that December would take $1,100 from me in exchange for two of al-Qaeda's most valuable computers—a 40-gigabyte IBM desktop and a Compaq laptop. He had stolen them from al-Qaeda's central office in Kabul on November 12, the night before the city fell to the Northern Alliance. He wanted the money, he said, so that he could travel to the United States and meet some American girls.

The jihadis' Kabul office employed a zealous manager—Ayman al-Zawahiri's brother Muhammad, who maintained the computer's files in a meticulous network of folders and subfolders that neatly laid out the group's organizational structure and strategic concerns. (Muhammad's system fell apart after he was arrested in 2000 in Dubai and extradited to Egypt.) The files not only provided critical active intelligence about the group's plans and methods at the time (including the first leads about the shoe bomber Richard Reid, who had yet to attempt his attack) but also, in a fragmentary way, revealed a road map of al-Qaeda's progress toward 9/11. Considered as a whole, the trove of material on the computer represents what is surely the fullest sociological profile of al-Qaeda ever to be made public. ...

Perhaps one of the most important insights to emerge from the computer is that 9/11 sprang not so much from al-Qaeda's strengths as from its weaknesses. The computer did not reveal any links to Iraq or any other deep-pocketed government; amid the group's penury the members fell to bitter infighting. The blow against the United States was meant to put an end to the internal rivalries, which are manifest in vitriolic memos between Kabul and cells abroad. Al-Qaeda's leaders worried about a military response from the United States, but in such a response they spied opportunity: they had fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and they fondly remembered that war as a galvanizing experience, an event that roused the indifferent of the Arab world to fight and win against a technologically superior Western infidel. The jihadis expected the United States, like the Soviet Union, to be a clumsy opponent. Afghanistan would again become a slowly filling graveyard for the imperial ambitions of a superpower.

Like the early Russian anarchists who wrote some of the most persuasive tracts on the uses of terror, al-Qaeda understood that its attacks would not lead to a quick collapse of the great powers. Rather, its aim was to tempt the powers to strike back in a way that would create sympathy for the terrorists. Al-Qaeda has so far gained little from the ground war in Afghanistan; the conflict in Iraq, closer to the center of the Arab world, is potentially more fruitful. As Arab resentment against the United States spreads, al-Qaeda may look less like a tightly knit terror group and more like a mass movement. And as the group develops synergy in working with other groups branded by the United States as enemies (in Iraq, the Israeli-occupied territories, Kashmir, the Mindanao Peninsula, and Chechnya, to name a few places), one wonders if the United States is indeed playing the role written for it on the computer. ...

[read more]

Take Me to Your Leader, Comrade 

MosNews, Aug. 10:

Members of a special expedition researching the site of the famous Tunguska meteorite fall have claimed they had discovered parts of an extraterrestrial device.

The expedition, organized by the Siberian Public State Foundation “Tunguska Space Phenomenon” completed its work on the scene of Tunguska meteorite fall on August 9. It was the first expedition to the region since 2000. Guided by the space photos, the researchers scanned a wider territory in the vicinity of the Poligusa village for parts of the space object that crashed into Earth in 1908 and was later called the Tunguska meteorite. ...

[read more]

Judith Miller Subpoened in Plamegate Probe 

New York Times, Aug 13:

A reporter for The New York Times, Judith Miller, was subpoenaed yesterday by a Washington grand jury investigating the disclosure of the identity of a C.I.A. undercover officer to the syndicated columnist Robert Novak and other journalists.

The subpoena to Ms. Miller was only the most recent of a series issued to journalists in a politically sensitive inquiry that has on several occasions led investigators to question White House officials. ...

On Monday, a federal district judge in Washington held Time magazine and one of its reporters in contempt for refusing to identify their sources in the same case. The judge, Thomas F. Hogan, ordered the magazine to pay $1,000 a day and its reporter, Matthew Cooper, jailed until the sources were named. He suspended the sanctions pending the outcome of an appeal. ...

Mr. Novak was the first journalist to identify Valerie Plame as an undercover C.I.A. officer, in a column on July 14, 2003. Ms. Plame's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former diplomat, has asserted that the disclosure of her identity was retribution for his contention eight days earlier, in an Op-Ed article in The Times, that President Bush relied on discredited intelligence on Iraq in his 2003 State of the Union address. ...

[read more]

Julia Child's Recipe Tamed Sharks 

NPR April 4, 2002:

... The National Women's History Museum exhibit, Clandestine Women: The Untold Stories of Women in Espionage, also features the story of another unlikely operative, Julia Child.
Decades before becoming a famous chef, she worked for the Office of Strategic Services. (The OSS was the predecessor to the CIA.) She was assigned to solve a problem for U.S. naval forces during World War II: Sharks would bump into explosives that were placed underwater, setting them off and warning the German U-boats they were intended to sink.
"So... Julia Child and a few of her male compatriots got together and literally cooked up a shark repellent," that was used to coat the explosives, McCarthy ...

[read more]

UN Allowed Saddam to Milk Oil-for-Food Program for Billions 

New York Times, Aug 13:

... Since the fall of Mr. Hussein, the oil-for-food program has received far more scrutiny than it ever did during its six years of operation. Congress's Government Accountability Office, formerly the General Accounting Office, has estimated that the Iraqi leader siphoned at least $10 billion from the program by illicitly trading in oil and collecting kickbacks from companies that had United Nations approval to do business with Iraq. Multiple investigations now under way in Washington and Iraq and at the United Nations all center on one straightforward question: How did Mr. Hussein amass so much money while under international sanctions? An examination of the program, the largest in the United Nations' history, suggests an equally straightforward answer: The United Nations let him do it. ...

[read more]

Goss Said He Was Unfit to Serve in CIA  

Guardian, Aug. 13:

Michael Moore yesterday released unseen footage of the new CIA boss explaining his own unsuitability for the role. The scene, which didn't make the cut for Fahrenheit 9/11, shows Porter Goss pointing out that his lack of language and computer skills means he "wouldn't get a job" with the CIA. ...

He explained, "My language skills were romance languages and stuff. We're looking for Arabists today. I don't have the cultural background probably. ...

[read more]

Najaf a Lose-Lose Situation 

CNN, Aug. 13:

Shiite and interim Iraqi government leaders began cease-fire talks Friday with the forces of radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf, Iraqi authorities said.

Sources said the fighting in the embattled south-central city has died down while discussions are held with officials on Islam's holy day, when Friday prayers and sermons filled mosques across the land. ...

[read more]

Bush's Self-Fulfilling Prophecy 

rumorcontrol.org, Aug. 13:

Senior intelligence sources in the U.S., as well as officials in the Middle East, claim that the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has made a strategic decision to confront American forces in Iraq's Shi'a heartland. Those senior intelligence sources (a total of five separate individuals who either now serve or have served in key intelligence positions) base their belief on evidence showing that Iran has armed Shi'a groups in southern Iraq with sophisticated weaponry, has provided political and military guidance to Shi'a groups, has made and maintained contacts with Sunni resistance leaders in "the Sunni triangle" in central Iraq, and is pursuing a program of escalating confrontations between Shia militias and American troops. Among the weapons shipped to the Shi'a militants are sophisticated anti-tank rockets and anti-aircraft missiles, according to these sources.

"The rhetoric coming out of the Bush administration has convinced Iran that military conflict is inevitable and rather than await an attack at a time and place of America's choosing, the Iranians will try to inflict significant damage to U.S. forces on Iraqi soil by means of the Mahdi Army and other Shi'a groups," an informed intelligence source told This Is Rumor Control. Senior officials of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency would not comment on these reports, but a former senior intelligence officer said that the conclusion was "a no brainer." As he noted: "If you had U.S. troops on your doorstep and George Bush calling you a part of the axis of evil you would take steps to protect yourself. And it would be better to protect yourself on Iraqi soil than to have to do so on Iranian soil. That is what they are doing. Are we surprised? We shouldn't be. ....

[read more]

Thursday, August 12, 2004

CYA: Washington Post Damage Control 

Glory Days: Woodstein before taxes, circa 1973

Walter "Pinky" Pincus
after taxes

Once upon a time, I briefly interveiwed Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus. The subject of the phoner was former Post reporter Carl Bernstein, who broke the Watergate cover up with Bob Woodward.

Pincus didn't have a good word to say about his former colleague. Bernstein, according to Pincus, was too brash, too much of an upstart. More than anything else he defied the sanctified rules of top-down reporting. While Woodward, who is now a big shot editor, busied himself getting confirmation and scuttlebutt from "Deep Throat," Bernstein worked his low level sources; the secretaries and clerks in the federal bureaucracy who knew the inside story on Nixon's White House and were willing to tell it without any strings attached. This is an over simplification, of course, but it doesn't stray far from the mark.

I suspect that Pincus took exception to Bernstein's alternative methods for just that reason. Pincus has spent a career developing high-level sources in the intelligence community. These people trade in information with the press only when it benefits their own personal interests or those of the power elite who they represent. The news that eventually winds up in the newspaper with Pincus' byline is almost always shaded by the "authoritative" (usually unnamed sources) who leaked the information. It's insider baseball, and those not privy to the behind-the-scenes activities of the power brokers and the motives they bring to the table don't really understand why the story has been shaped the way that it has.

Pincus and his ilk are, by the very nature of their professional relationships, handmaidens (to be kind) of the military and political players who more often than not have every reason to deceive the American public. Nothing that these misleaders say should be taken at face value. Coming of age in the Watergate era, I believed that kind of healthy scepticism was the best way to approach a news story. Being a watchdog not a lap dog of the powers-that-be was what reporters were supposed to be.

For more than a decade I followed that creed as a member of the alternative press in St. Louis. Although the stories I wrote and reported dealt mainly with state and local issues, the importance of questioning the established line was the same. To maintain this kind of vigilence, however, a journalist actually has to do his or her own reporting and not rely soley on what the sources who have a vested interest say. It really doesn't matter if it's the sewer department or the Pentagon.

With mainstream reporters such as Pincus, though, this is a very difficult, if not impossible task. That's because he has more in common with his stable of sources than he does with the public. He relies on them to feed him scraps of information. Feeding time comes when those same sources want to get their side of the story publicized. This symbiotic relationship allows Pincus to maintain his job, while spewing out what could be considered propaganda in its purest form. A careful reader, who is versed in the nuances of a particular issue, may actually gain some insight from such stories, but it is despite the cooperative mechinations of the press and those in power.

In this respect, Pincus is like New York Times reporter Judith Miller who spewed Pentagon lies on the front page, courtesy of the Office of Special Plans. We now know (thanks to Sy Hersh) that much of this disinformation on weapons of mass destruction originated from the Bush's neo-cons, who spun intelligence data to fit their twisted foreign policy aims.

Today, the Post published a story admitting the error of its ways. Like the New York Times, the Post belatedly says it reported the Bush administration's viewpoint without questioning those claims enough. Ironically, the lede graf of today's story mentions how Walter Pincus and Bob Woodward fought valiantly against editorial opposition to run a story that was critical of the Bush Bund's propaganda.

When high-priced hacks atone for thier sins by hedging up front, it makes me stop reading in mid-sentence. I don't think I'm alone. From my unemployed vantage point here in the Great Midwest, it looks like they're just covering their asses, again. By the way guys, a lot us already know that you fucked up and we got the bodies to prove it. The blood is on your hands just as much as Bush's.

Let's do lunch sometime.

Washington Post Aug. 12:

by Howard Kurtz

Days before the Iraq war began, veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus put together a story questioning whether the Bush administration had proof that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction.

But he ran into resistance from the paper's editors, and his piece ran only after assistant managing editor Bob Woodward, who was researching a book about the drive toward war, "helped sell the story," Pincus recalled. "Without him, it would have had a tough time getting into the paper." Even so, the article was relegated to Page A17. ...

(That was really noble of you, Bob. BTW, do you really think you wheedled the truth out Bush in your little Oval Office tete-a-tete?)

[read more]

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Bigot Penned Anti-Kerry Book 

The other author, attorney John O'Neill works for the Houston law firm that has represented Enron. In 1971, he debated Kerry on the Vietnam war issue at Nixon's encouragement.

Associated Press, Aug 10:

by Jennifer Kerr

One of the authors of a new anti-John Kerry book frequently posted comments on a conservative Web site describing Muslims and Catholics as pedophiles and Pope John Paul (news - web sites) II as senile.

But as he prepared to launch the book, "Unfit for Command," Jerry Corsi apologized for the remarks in an interview with The Associated Press Tuesday, saying they were meant as a joke and he never intended to offend anyone.

In chat room entry last year on freerepublic.com, Corsi writes: "Islam is a peaceful religion — just as long as the women are beaten, the boys buggered and the infidels are killed."

In another entry, he says: "So this is what the last days of the Catholic Church are going to look like. Buggering boys undermines the moral base and the lawyers rip the gold off the Vatican (news - web sites) altars. We may get one more Pope, when this senile one dies, but that's probably about it."

Corsi, who described himself as a "devout Catholic," said the comments are being taken out of context. "I considered them a joke," said Corsi, who owns a financial services company and has written extensively on the anti-war movement.

In a March posting, Corsi discussed Kerry's faith, writing: "After he married TerRAHsa, didn't John Kerry begin practicing Judaism? He also has paternal grandparents that were Jewish. What religion is John Kerry?"

Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, are Catholic.

"I don't stand by any of those comments and I apologize if they offended anybody," Corsi said.

The Kerry campaign called Corsi's Web chat postings disgusting.

"President Bush (news - web sites) should immediately condemn this sleazy book written by a virulent anti-Catholic bigot. It says something about the smear campaign against John Kerry that it has stooped to enlist a hatemonger," said campaign spokesman Chad Clanton. ...

[read more]

The Paranoid Take on Goss' Nomination Not so Paranoid 

Maybe this explains why Shelby is being trashed for "leaking" classified information all of a sudden.

by Carol Brouillet, July 4, 2004

... According to Al Martin, in 1983 Goss was involved in Iran-Contra profiteering with Jeb and Neil Bush’s Destin Country Club development fraud – a fraud out of which he made about $3 million illegally. He then became involved with Carlos Cardoen and Swissco Management, and the fraud that Swissco ... committed, not only in Florida, but throughout the United States, in those so-called illicit 'tax-swap deals,' which Sen. Bob Graham of Florida also profited in. ...

He (Goss) initially opposed an inquiry into 9/11, until he thought it had a chance of averting a real commission. According to Sen. Richard Shelby, his threats to expose the inquiry as a sham and throw his weight into the support of an outside commission drove Graham and Goss to expand the narrow perimeters of the initial inquiry. When the inquiry failed to contain the victims' families outrage, the official commission came into play; now the families are denouncing the commission as a “cover-up commission” rife with conflicts of interest that has failed utterly to address key questions raised by the victims' families. ...

[read more]

Goss Embodies the Ethics of Deceit 

As chairman of the House Ethics Committee in 1997, Rep. Porter Goss, who is now pegged to be the next CIA director, tried to get Speaker Newt Gingrich off the hook. The following story on that subject includes a quote from Don Whitehead one of Goss' partners in the Island Reporter, the weekly newspaper he published in Sanibel Island, Fla. Whitehead is identified as a former CIA agent. He may instead have been a FBI agent.

St. Petersburg Times, Jan. 6, 1997:

... "He must be terribly embarrassed by all this," said Don Whitehead, a former CIA agent who teamed with Goss in 1973 to start Sanibel's weekly paper, the Island Reporter. "He's a good loyal Republican and he's on the spot."

With a reputation for independence and integrity, Goss said he will not be swayed by the political winds. But it is a joyless task. As he put it: "If  you want to run for pariah, I can tell you how to do it." 

 As a student at Yale University in the late 1950s and then a brainy newcomer in the Central Intelligence Agency's Clandestine Services, Porter  Goss never fancied himself a politician.

   But the CIA did teach him one lesson that has served him well in Congress.

   "There is a sign chiseled into the wall as you enter the agency," he recalled. " "The truth shall make you free.' " ...

Same Ol' Same Ol': Yalie Goss Fits the Profile of Typical Spook  

Washington Post, May 18, 2002:

by Richard Leiby

... Resting in his Washington hotel room, the spy felt lightheaded. His pulse raced. He called a doctor. Then he collapsed.

When 31-year-old Porter J. Goss regained consciousness, he was in a hospital, undergoing treatment for a massive infection. It was 1970. The CIA had called him to Washington from his home base in England, where he lived with his wife, Mariel, and four children.

Goss nearly died, and doctors had no idea what caused the staph infection of his heart and other vital organs. Neither did he. (He rules out deliberate poisoning.)

"This was out of the wild blue," says Goss, now 63. The illness put him in a wheelchair, cut short his CIA career and pushed his life in a new direction.

    The son of a metals company sales manager, Goss grew up in Waterbury, Conn., and recalls watching World War II artillery shells being transported to the factory floor as a boy. But he wasn't working class. His family could afford to send him to Hotchkiss prep school and Yale, where he joined the Army
ROTC and made his first contacts with the Central Intelligence Agency. He trained as a military intelligence officer after graduation, and by 1962 he was working at the CIA, deployed to Miami in time for the Cuban missile crisis.

He did photo interpretation and "small-boat handling" but doesn't want to lay out specifics. "I had some very interesting moments in the Florida Straits," he says. "I don't think I'd be comfortable going to Cuba." (Though earlier this year he visited the U.S. base at Guantanamo, wanting to make sure that debriefings there of Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners were "getting the proper results.")

Goss and Mafia Had Same Goal -- Offing Castro 

Times, of London, Aug. 11:

by David Adams
Miami -- Porter Goss has never spoken publicly about the decade he spent with the CIA, except to say that he was deployed in Miami during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
"I had some very interesting moments in the Florida Straits," he told The Washington Post in 2000.
It is not known how long Mr Goss stayed in Miami or whether his CIA role went beyond the missile crisis. It appears, however, that his service began after the CIA's clumsy first attempts to explore ways of assassinating Fidel Castro, who took power on January 1, 1960. Then the agency is said to have
contacted the Mafia for advice.
Among the plots considered were injecting an untraceable poison, botulinum toxin, into a selection of President Castro's favourite brand of cigars, a poison pill and even a booby-trapped seashell (the Cuban leader was believed to be an avid diver.) At the time of Mr Goss's posting the CIA was ending another
of its more infamous covert action projects -dubbed Operation Mongoose -to sabotage President Castro's Government.
Launched in late 1961 after the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, Operation Mongoose involved a series of psychological operations (psyops), designed to cause a Cuban uprising.
Tactics included the production and dissemination of anti-Castro newsreels, radio programmes, and books.

Wearing Old Glory 

Remember the redneck who shot Peter Fonda at the end of Easy Rider because he was wearing an American flag?

Mike Wallace Arrested  

WABC, New York, Aug. 11:

Mike Wallace is certainly no stranger to controversy. He was in the center of it Tuesday when he was reportedly handcuffed and hauled away by peace officers with the Taxi and Limousine Commission who claimed they had no choice but to arrest him.

It happened outside of "Luke's" Bar and Grill on 79th Street and Third Avenue. We're told Mike Wallace went there to pick up a takeout dinner, when his driver was stopped by TLC inspectors for double parking.

A spokesperson for the TLC says when the two inspectors tried see if there were any other violation, things quickly got heated.

One police officer reportedly said he thought Wallace was going to lunge at the other inspector, so he handcuffed the 86-year-old journalist and hauled him off to a police precinct where he was issued a summons for disorderly conduct. ...

[read more]

Bush Named Goss to Head CIA for Political Reasons, Washington Post Reports 

Anything Pincus reports needs to be read between the lines. He's a whore to the intel establishment.

Washington Post, Aug. 11:

by Mike Allen and Walter "Pinky" Pincus

By picking a loyal GOP lawmaker to head the CIA, President Bush tried to reassert himself on an issue where he has been losing ground -- but did so at the cost of inviting Democratic accusations he is politicizing intelligence.

Aides had said six weeks ago that Bush was on the brink of naming Rep. Porter J. Goss of Florida to replace George J. Tenet, who left office a month ago today. Democratic senators, in unusually tough statements about a fellow lawmaker, warned that Goss would be an unacceptable choice because of what they described as his partisanship. Even some Republican senators said the confirmation battle would not be worth it.

Bush nominated him anyway.

Administration officials said the White House calculated that the president could not lose: Democrats would either cave when faced with a fight, or Bush could accuse them of obstructing CIA stability at a time when the nation is under threat of a terrorist attack.

Republican officials said the White House is also worried by polls showing erosion in Bush's image as commander in chief after Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) endorsed, more than a week before Bush, a reorganization of the intelligence services recommended by the commission investigating the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

A Republican political operative, who requested anonymity because of participation in the party's regular conference calls, said the president turned back to Goss because "poll data showed Kerry had closed the gap with Bush on handling of terrorism and was slightly ahead as fit to be commander in chief." The operative also said polls showed the president's embrace of the commission's suggestion for a new intelligence director "was not understood by the public." Goss had to be named "to show Bush was moving ahead." ...

[read more]

Goss Met With Alleged 9/11 Paymaster 

Rep. Porter Goss, the CIA agent turned lawmaker who Bush has tapped to head the agency, had breakfast with General Mahmoud Ahmed, the then head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, on Sept. 11, 2001. Ahmed allegedly ordered an accomplice to wire $100,000 before the attacks to terrorist ringleader Mahammed Atta. Will Goss be asked about this meeting at his Senate confirmation hearings next month?

Guardian, July 22:

by Michael Meacher (UK Labour Party member of Parliament)

Omar Sheikh, a British-born Islamist militant, is waiting to be hanged in Pakistan for a murder he almost certainly didn't commit - of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. Both the US government and Pearl's wife have since acknowledged that Sheikh was not responsible. Yet the Pakistani government is refusing to try other suspects newly implicated in Pearl's kidnap and murder for fear the evidence they produce in court might acquit Sheikh and reveal too much.

Significantly, Sheikh is also the man who, on the instructions of General Mahmoud Ahmed, the then head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), wired $100,000 before the 9/11 attacks to Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker. It is extraordinary that neither Ahmed nor Sheikh have been charged and brought to trial on this count. Why not?

Ahmed, the paymaster for the hijackers, was actually in Washington on 9/11, and had a series of pre-9/11 top-level meetings in the White House, the Pentagon, the national security council, and with George Tenet, then head of the CIA, and Marc Grossman, the under-secretary of state for political affairs. When Ahmed was exposed by the Wall Street Journal as having sent the money to the hijackers, he was forced to "retire" by President Pervez Musharraf. Why hasn't the US demanded that he be questioned and tried in court?

Another person who must know a great deal about what led up to 9/11 is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, allegedly arrested in Rawalpindi on March 1 2003. A joint Senate-House intelligence select committee inquiry in July 2003 stated: "KSM appears to be one of Bin Laden's most trusted lieutenants and was active in recruiting people to travel outside Afghanistan, including to the US, on behalf of Bin Laden." According to the report, the clear implication was that they would be engaged in planning terrorist-related activities.

The report was sent from the CIA to the FBI, but neither agency apparently recognised the significance of a Bin Laden lieutenant sending terrorists to the US and asking them to establish contacts with colleagues already there. Yet the New York Times has since noted that "American officials said that KSM, once al-Qaida's top operational commander, personally executed Daniel Pearl ... but he was unlikely to be accused of the crime in an American criminal court because of the risk of divulging classified information". Indeed, he may never be brought to trial.

A fourth witness is Sibel Edmonds. She is a 33-year-old Turkish-American former FBI translator of intelligence, fluent in Farsi, the language spoken mainly in Iran and Afghanistan, who had top-secret security clearance. She tried to blow the whistle on the cover-up of intelligence that names some of the culprits who orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, but is now under two gagging orders that forbid her from testifying in court or mentioning the names of the people or the countries involved. She has been quoted as saying: "My translations of the 9/11 intercepts included [terrorist] money laundering, detailed and date-specific information ... if they were to do real investigations, we would see several significant high-level criminal prosecutions in this country [the US] ... and believe me, they will do everything to cover this up".

Furthermore, the trial in the US of Zacharias Moussaoui (allegedly the 20th hijacker) is in danger of collapse apparently because of "the CIA's reluctance to allow key lieutenants of Osama bin Laden to testify at the trial". Two of the alleged conspirators have already been set free in Germany for the same reason.

The FBI, illegally, continues to refuse the to release of their agent Robert Wright's 500-page manuscript Fatal Betrayals of the Intelligence Mission, and has even refused to turn the manuscript over to Senator Shelby, vice-chairman of the joint intelligence committee charged with investigating America's 9/11 intelligence failures. And the US government still refuses to declassify 28 secret pages of a recent report on 9/11.

It has been rumoured that Pearl was especially interested in any role played by the US in training or backing the ISI. Daniel Ellsberg, the former US defence department whistleblower who has accompanied Edmonds in court, has stated: "It seems to me quite plausible that Pakistan was quite involved in this ... To say Pakistan is, to me, to say CIA because ... it's hard to say that the ISI knew something that the CIA had no knowledge of." Ahmed's close relations with the CIA would seem to confirm this. For years the CIA used the ISI as a conduit to pump billions of dollars into militant Islamist groups in Afghanistan, both before and after the Soviet invasion of 1979.

W ith CIA backing, the ISI has developed, since the early 1980s, into a parallel structure, a state within a state, with staff and informers estimated by some at 150,000. It wields enormous power over all aspects of government. The case of Ahmed confirms that parts of the ISI directly supported and financed al-Qaida, and it has long been established that the ISI has acted as go-between in intelligence operations on behalf of the CIA.

Senator Bob Graham, chairman of the Senate select committee on intelligence, has said: "I think there is very compelling evidence that at least some of the terrorists were assisted, not just in financing ... by a sovereign foreign government." In that context, Horst Ehmke, former coordinator of the West German secret services, observed: "Terrorists could not have carried out such an operation with four hijacked planes without the support of a secret service."

That might give meaning to the reaction on 9/11 of Richard Clarke, the White House counter-terrorism chief, when he saw the passenger lists later on the day itself: "I was stunned ... that there were al-Qaida operatives on board using names that the FBI knew were al-Qaida." It was just that, as Dale Watson, head of counter-terrorism at the FBI told him, the "CIA forgot to tell us about them".

· Michael Meacher is Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton. He was environment minister 1997-2003

[read more]

Citizen Goss Is a Former Newspaper Publisher 

Rep. Porter Goss -- who as a CIA agent was stationed in Miami around the time of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion -- published a weekly newspaper in Florida after retiring from the agency in 1971. His ties to the "company" have remained strong ever since. Media Mayhem will be taking a closer look at Goss' credentials between now and his Senate nomination hearings. Keep in mind that George H.W. Bush, the current president's father, has been alleged to have been a CIA agent in Miami in 1963. Calling "former" CIA agents "retired" is like referring to strippers as "ex-ballet dancers."

That then-Gov. Bob Graham appointed Goss to the Lee County, Florida Commission in 1983, after a sex scandal involving an alleged mob-connected contractor, may show why the Democrat , a former presidential candidate who currently sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, favors Goss' appointment to head the CIA. Some of the same skeletons may be lurking in both of their closets.

Goss' connections to Florida politics, as well as his clandestine work for the CIA in Miami 40 years ago, should be addressed in his Senate confirmation hearings -- but don't count on it. Even more important are Goss' ties to the ISI, the Pakistani secret police agency, which is known to have aided terrorists organizations, the Taliban and heroin traffickers.

Americans are fed up with secret government bullshit and Goss' nomination just adds to the obfuscation.

Palm Beach Post, Aug. 11:

by Larry Lipman

... During a visit to Washington, Goss became seriously ill and collapsed in his hotel room. He was diagnosed with a staph infection that had attacked his heart and other vital organs. The cause of the infection was never determined.

The illness and the months of recovery brought the spy in from the cold. He was offered a desk job at the CIA but decided to retire instead. He left the agency in 1971 and, rather than returning to Connecticut where he had attended boarding schools as a youth, he settled in southwest Florida's seashell-strewn Sanibel Island, a haven for retired CIA operatives.

Goss immediately became involved in the community's business and government scene. He ran a boat rental operation and a beach cottage resort. With other former CIA officers, Goss helped found an award-winning weekly newspaper, the Island Reporter, and was its publisher. In the early 1970s, Goss helped incorporate the city of Sanibel and became its first mayor in 1974. He served for eight years on the Sanibel City Council, including four one-year stints as mayor.

In 1983, then-Gov. Bob Graham reached across party lines to appoint Goss to the Lee County Commission after three commissioners were indicted in a sex-for-votes scandal involving a contractor suspected of having mob ties. Some Democrats were unhappy with Graham for giving the seat to a Republican. Goss easily won reelection to the commission and in 1988, when Connie Mack III gave up his safe House seat to run for the Senate, Goss was elected to Congress. He has been reelected every two years since then, running unopposed in 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2002.

Goss had planned to make the 2000 election his last before retirement, but that was before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Goss and Graham, then chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, were meeting in the Capitol that morning with Gen. Mahmud Ahmed, the since-deposed head of Pakistan's intelligence agency, when word came of the attacks in New York. Goss, that day's designated speaker pro tempore, went through his duties of convening the House before the Capitol was evacuated. ...

[read more]

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Trend: Feel-Good Weekly Launches in Atlanta  

Yeah, America's a great place to live -- if you aren't poor or sick. We have the worst pay scale of almost every industrialized nation in the world. We work more for less. There hasn't been an increase in the minimum wage for ages. There are more murders here than most countries combined. Health care is too expensive for people to afford. Old people have to go to Canada to get their drugs. The standard of living has been steadily declining for more than 30 years. Millions of jobs have been exported since Bush took office. Our president wasn't even elected. There are more people in prison here than any nation on earth. We invaded Iraq for bullshit reasons ... Our troops are dying because this scumbag Bush owes his buddies in the oil industry. I could go on. ... But what's the point? Yuppies want to feel good and that's what's important to ADVERTISERS.

This new Atlanta rag isn't the first to surrender its journalistic integrity. It's following a trend. The alternative press, which was forged during the Watergate and Vietnam eras, is dead. Take a look at the Riverfront Times, it's totally vacuous. I think they should call it something else instead of a newspaper. After all, "newspapers" have a rather stodgy, 20th-Century connotation attached to them. What should we call these "happy" weekly advertising circulars? How about calling them "comic books?" Sounds good to me.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution (subscription), Aug 7:

by Carolyn Wilbert

Patrick Best, a former ad salesman at alternative paper Creative Loafing, is trying to create a niche at a time when established media companies and entrepreneurs across the country are looking for products to attract young readers.

Best's inspiration: new daily tabloids in cities like Chicago and Dallas that offer busy readers a quick-read alternative to traditional newspapers. He also thinks young adults, some of whom have conservative leanings, are turned off by the liberal bent of Creative Loafing and other so-called alternative papers. ...

Best and his editor, 30-year-old former free-lance writer Conal Byrne, don't call the tone conservative. They say it will be more positive than left-leaning publications like Creative Loafing.

"Being an American and living in the United States is a good thing, and it is something to be proud of," Byrne said. "We will not be constantly, ad nauseam, critiquing it to the point people don't feel good about it."

[read more]

Fear Factor 

Toronto Globe and Mail, Aug 5:

by Lawrence Martin

The latest terrorism alert -- which, like the others, has thankfully produced nothing but fear itself -- was based primarily on at least three-year-old communications in Pakistan. Though there is unsettling material, nothing in these documents suggests that any attack was planned for this period of time.

Yet the Bush administration went ahead with another dire terror alert anyway, spreading alarm through Gotham. The President then turned up the hysteria volume another notch. "We are a nation in danger," he said.

For George W. Bush's reign of fear, it was a fitting declaration. With his narcissistic strut, he tries to project strength. But how does a president project anything but weakness in having the world's greatest power tremble over evidence of file-updating by an enemy with a tiny fraction of his military capacity?

It's probably the response that Osama bin Laden and his network of savages would have desired. It's as if they're toying with the United States. They can be pictured in their caves or Saudi palaces, feet up, chuckling. "What American city should we petrify with a leaked document today? Chicago? Miami? Or need we even bother? It's been three years since 9/11, and they're still paranoid. They're right where we want 'em -- in an eternal state of fear." ...

[read more]

Snitch Criteria 

Department of Homeland Security, Aug. 3:

Surveillance/Probing Activity
• Report attempts to test or conduct reconnaissance of security operations at critical infrastructure/key resource facilities, high profile venues or sector-specific events.

• Report any persons showing uncommon interest in security measures or personnel, entry points or access controls, or perimeter barriers such as fences or walls.

• Report any persons showing uncommon interest in critical infrastructure/key resource facilities, networks, or systems (e.g. photographing or videotaping assets).

• Report any theft of or missing official company identification documents, uniforms, credentials, or vehicles necessary for accessing critical infrastructure/key resource facilities or sector-specific events.

• Report all suspicious attempts to recruit employees or persons knowledgeable about key personnel or critical infrastructure/key resource facilities, networks, or systems.

• Report any theft, purchase, or suspicious means of obtaining plans, blueprints, alarm system schematics, or similar physical security-related or sensitive information related to a facility with critical infrastructure/key resource facilities and systems.

• Report any discovery of documents (particularly foreign language products) containing pictures or drawings of critical infrastructure/key resource facilities or systems.

• Report any persons near critical infrastructure/key resource facilities who do not fit the surrounding environment, such as individuals wearing improper attire for conditions or not normally present in the area (such as, homeless persons, street vendors, demonstrators, or street sweepers).

• Report pedestrian surveillance near critical infrastructure/key resource facilities involving any surveillance activity of sensitive operations, including photography, videotaping, or extensive note-taking/use of audio recorder (regardless of the number of individuals involved), or mobile surveillance by cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats or small aircraft.

• Report all threats/warnings that could affect the reliability and operation of the nation’s critical infrastructures/key resources.

• Report discoveries of website postings which make violent threats specific to critical infrastructures or sector specific events.

[read more]

Shit Happens: Rock Band's Tour Bus Takes Dump on Tourists 

Chicago Sun-Times, Aug. 10:

Chicago Police are investigating whether tour buses for a rock band dumped raw sewage from the Kinzie Street bridge onto people aboard a popular architecture boat tour Sunday.

"It was terrible,'' said Holly Agra, president of Chicago's First Lady Cruises. "Everybody is a victim except the people on the bus, the people who did that. It's unforgettable. I find it hard to believe it was an accident. We certainly would like the owners and operators to step forward without us having to chase them down.'' ...

[read more]

Bush Taps Goss to Head CIA 

Fox News, Aug. 10:

President Bush has chosen Rep. Porter Goss, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to be the new director of the CIA and to lead the spy agency in thwarting terrorist attacks.

Bush announced the selection of the 65-year-old one-time Army and CIA intelligence operative at an 8:30 a.m. announcement in the White House Rose Garden. ...

[read more]

Bush Bund Leak Allows Qaida Suspects to Escape 

Associated Press, Aug. 10:

Islamabad, Pakistan — The disclosure to reporters of the arrest of an al-Qaeda computer expert allowed several wanted suspects from Osama bin Laden's terror network to escape, government and security officials said Tuesday.

Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, a 25-year-old Pakistani computer engineer, was nabbed in a July 13 raid in the eastern city of Lahore. He then led Pakistani authorities to a key al-Qaeda figure and cooperated secretly by sending e-mails to terrorists so investigators could trace their locations.

His arrest was first reported in American newspapers on Aug. 2 after it was disclosed to reporters by U.S. officials in Washington. Later, the Pakistan government also confirmed his capture but gave no other details.

Two senior Pakistani officials said the reports in "Western media" enabled other al-Qaeda suspects to get away.

"Let me say that this intelligence leak jeopardized our plan and some al-Qaeda suspects ran away," one of the officials said on condition of anonymity. ...

GOP Money Behind Swift Boat Liars  

FactCheck.org, Aug 6:

A group funded by the biggest Republican campaign donor in Texas began running an attack ad Aug. 5 in which former Swift Boat veterans claim Kerry lied to get one of his two decorations for bravery and two of his three purple hearts.
But the veterans who accuse Kerry are contradicted by Kerry's former crewmen. One of the accusers says he was on another boat "a few yards" away during the incident which won Kerry the Bronze Star, but the former Army lieutenant whom Kerry plucked from the water that day backs Kerry's account. In an Aug. 10 opinion piece in the conservative Wall Street Journal , Rassmann (a Republican himself) wrote that the ad was "launched by people without decency" who are "lying" and "should hang their heads in shame." ...

Although the word "Republican" does not appear in the ad, the group's financing is highly partisan. The source of the Swift Boat group's money wasn't known when it first surfaced, but a report filed July 15 with the Internal Revenue Services now shows its initial funding came mainly from a Houston home builder, Bob R. Perry, who has also given millions to the Republican party and Republican candidates, mostly in Texas, including President Bush and Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay, whose district is near Houston

Perry gave $100,000 of the $158,750 received by the Swift Boat group through the end of June, according to its disclosure report .

Perry and his wife Doylene also gave more than $3 million to Texas Republicans during the 2002 elections, according to a database maintained by the Institute on Money in State Politics . The Perrys also were among the largest Republican donors in neighboring Louisiana, where they gave $200,000, and New Mexico, where they gave $183,000, according to the database. ...  

[read more]

You Gotta Wonder Just How Stupid Republican Voters Can Be 

Associated Press, Aug. 9:

Annandale, Va. -- ... Bush also said high taxes on the rich are a failed strategy because "the really rich people figure out how to dodge taxes anyway."

Asked about that comment, Jonathan Beeton, spokesman for Kerry's campaign in Virginia, said "George Bush can speak with authority about really rich people. ... That's his base, so I'm sure he knows what he's talking about. But that doesn't make it right."

In general, Democrats said, the fact that the Bush campaign stopped in Virginia during a recent campaign swing that has also covered the traditional battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin shows weakness in Virginia.

"It seems he wouldn't come to Virginia unless he had a reason," said Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Kerry Donley. "He's seeing his support slip away, and he wants to stop the bleeding early."

Several dozen Kerry supporters demonstrated outside the rally, some wearing costumes dressed as "Miss Leader" and "Hallie Burton." Bush and Kerry supporters engaged in heated but respectful discussions after the rally.

Lois Garrett of Gordonsville, a Bush supporter, said the only problem she had with the Kerry supporters was that they were receiving some media attention.

"I just look at them and smile," she said. "They're damn lucky to be in this country because they would be backslapped if they lived anywhere else. I just pray that they will open their eyes."

[read more]

Chernobyl Site of Zombie Movie 

CNN, Aug. 10:

Ukraine -- You might have thought that Chernobyl was off-limits, closed to the outside world behind a rigidly patrolled exclusion zone since reactor No. 4 went into catastrophic meltdown April 26, 1986, spewing radiation to the four winds.

Not a bit of it. The reactor's deadly core was buried in a concrete and steel sarcophagus, but the adjoining reactors carried on producing electricity until they were finally decommissioned a couple of years ago.

A rotating staff of some 6,000 specialists and technicians still work at Chernobyl's scientific center. Hundreds of journalists, diplomats and tourists have been here in the past six years since the place was opened up to paying visitors, once safe areas away from the isolated and still highly radioactive "hot" zones were identified.

Some 40 documentaries have been shot within the vast controlled zone that rings Chernobyl and the nearby town of Pripyat.

Now, for the first time, a Hollywood feature film -- the zombie movie "Return of the Living Dead 4: Necropolis" -- has gained access to the infamous site. ...

[read more]

Village Voice Fires Goldstein 

New York Times Aug. 9:

Complicated internal doings, angry employees hinting that things are not what they seem: It sounds like the stuff of a story for The Village Voice. But this is a story about The Village Voice, which made its reputation as an outspoken liberal weekly newspaper with famously cantankerous writers.

As it approaches its 50th anniversary next year, its publisher says that advertising "could be better," though its editor in chief says it is profitable. And it is coping with the Internet and newfangled competitors like craigslist.com, whose listings have done for a new generation of apartment-hunters what The Voice's classifieds did for their parents, or even their grandparents.

The latest change at The Voice was on the masthead. Last Monday, one of its executive editors, Richard Goldstein, left the staff. A spokeswoman for The Voice said he had been "laid off as part of a restructuring of the editorial department." ...

[read more]

Best Of BS: Alternative Press as Alternative Advertising 

Jeremy Voas is a former editor of the vacuous Phoenix New Times, from which he was also fired. When journalism schools teach public relations and advertising, you can't expect much more.

Detroit News, Aug. 10:

The editor of the Metro Times, Metro Detroit's largest weekly newspaper, was fired last week.

Jeremy Voas, who became editor of the Metro Times in October 2001, said he was terminated Wednesday by the newspaper's publisher, Lisa Rudy.

Editors are like baseball managers. They are hired to be fired, Voas, 48, of Detroit said in an interview Monday evening.

Voas said he had a vocal difference of opinion with Rudy, who was named publisher in October, saying the pair didn't agree on what our mission should be.

I got into the alternative press because I wanted to do nothing but journalism, Voas said, a former assistant city editor at the now-defunct daily Phoenix (Ariz.) Gazette and former editor of the Phoenix New Times alternative weekly.

Voas said he and Rudy, who joined the Metro Times in 1994 as a saleswoman selling ad space to restaurants, disagreed over how much of the staff's resources should be dedicated to promotional issues such as its annual Best of Detroit issue.

Sometimes there's blurring of the lines in journalism, Voas said. I thought if the paper wanted to do more of that kind of thing they needed to hire a special staff to do more promotional issues. ...

[read more]

How Rove Made Bush's History as a Coke Head Go Away 

Heads magazine, Toronto

by Sander Hicks (former publisher of Soft Skull Press)

... When the media stumbled upon a story regarding George W. Bush's 1972 cocaine possession arrest, Rove had to find a way to kill the story. He did so by destroying the messenger.

Pop culture biographer J.H. Hatfield was on hand, traveling in and out of Texas at the time, interviewing Rove and other Bush aides to research the premier Bush biography "Lone Star Rising." The book that was later titled Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President, a more critical title that reflects its turbulent publishing history. One of Hatfield's acquaintances and primary sources was longtime Bush friend and schoolmate, Clay Johnson, a longtime Dallas businessman. When Hatfield was convicted of a felony in the late 80's, it’s likely Johnson learned of it. When Hatfield approached them to research Bush, the Bush campaign already had the upper hand by knowing Hatfield’s felony record: a perfect way to discredit all stories of Bush's drug past. In October 1999, St. Martin's published Fortunate Son amidst a lot of buzz and hope of positive attention from major media. However, St. Martin's was hit with a one-two punch. First, the New York Times refused to give the book the coverage St. Martin’s was counting on. So, St. Martin's dragged Hatfield into a meeting and leaned on him to reveal the confidential Bush campaign sources that told him the cocaine story. Fearing retribution, and honoring his journalistic code, Hatfield refused. Then, St. Martin's learned that the Dallas Morning News was about to break news about Hatfield's felony record. The Bush Campaign began to publicly make legal threats against the book, and the media uproar about Hatfield's felony record killed the book, and the cocaine story.

More than 70,000 copies of Fortunate Son were withdrawan. "They're heat! Furnace fodder!" snapped the vitriolic St. Martin's Vice President Sally J. Richardson. The media focus shifted from reporting on Hatfield's Bush story to loud, loose talk about Hatfield's felony. The major media tended to sing the same chorus: "How ironic, this Hatfield character who was involved in a dirty plot to kill his boss in 1987 is trying to verify these rumors about young Bush being arrested for cocaine possession in 1972. But this story couldn't be true, of course, since Hatfield's a criminal...right?"

I borrowed one of the rare, repossessed copies of the book from a friend and read it on a bus trip. I traveled with a pack of sticky notes and hit every page with something relevant and newsworthy and under-reported about Bush's past. Pretty soon, the book overflowed with the edges of sticky notes poking out like the feathers of a peacock. Bush dodged the draft, was a C student at Yale, lost a lot of other people's money in boom times in the Texas Oil market, was investigated by the S.E.C. for insider trading. What a garish life of special favors, what a clear colorful pattern of cut corners, what blurry values. I came back to New York and maneuvered my company, Soft Skull Press, Inc. to step in and acquire the rights to the book.

Meanwhile, Hatfield was in hiding. The tabloids were after him. ...

[read more]

Trees, What Are They Good For? 

Washington, D.C. - The Sierra Club joined conservationists across the
country today in releasing a report that documents the on-the-ground
impacts of the Bush administration’s destructive forest policies. The
report, "This Land is Your Land," was written by the American Lands
Alliance and released by a coalition of conservation groups. Highlighted in
the report are the administration’s efforts to increase commercial logging
in wild, roadless forests such as the Tongass National Forest in Alaska,
ancient old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest and forests across the

The report focuses on 18 timber sales and one gas development project that
are moving forward in 13 states. Among the list of projects are several
that would cause irreparable harm to old-growth forests. The report
highlights places like the Zane Grey roadless area in southern Oregon and
the Kaibab National Forest near the Grand Canyon in Arizona where
destructive timber sales are planned under the guise of "fuel reduction"
and "fire prevention."

[read more]

Monday, August 09, 2004

Brit Dies in Basra 

Reuters, Aug. 9:

A British soldier has been killed during clashes with insurgents in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, the Ministry of Defence has said.

"With regret we can confirm that one British soldier has been killed," a ministry spokesman said on Monday.

The soldier died when a number of British army vehicles came under fire from Iraqi insurgents in the Basra area, he said.

A British military spokesman on the ground said earlier that five British soldiers were wounded in fierce clashes with Shi'ite militiamen on the streets of Basra.

Two British military Land Rovers were set on fire after militiamen loyal to radical Shi'ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr fired rocket-propelled grenades at their patrol.

It was not immediately clear if one of those five had subsequently died or whether the fatality was a separate incident.


[read more]

FBI Search Car in Anthrax Probe 

UPI, Aug. 8:

Pittsburgh, Pa. -- Details remained sketchy about an FBI search of a car in an airport parking lot outside Pittsburgh somehow connected to the years' long anthrax investigation.

The weekend search took place at Connellsville Airport, about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The FBI would not disclose the owner of the car or exactly why it was searched.

Thursday the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service inspected three homes in New York and New Jersey belonging to Dr. Kenneth M. Berry, and the FBI would not say if those searches were linked to the Pittsburgh area search other than by some aspect of the anthrax investigation, CNN reported.

Beginning late in 2001, five people died from anthrax infections spread by mail. ...

[read more]

Oil Price Hike Pegged to Iraq Quagmire 

Bloomberg.com, Aug. 9:

Crude oil rose to a record $44.97 a barrel after Iraq cut shipments to tankers in the Persian Gulf because of warnings of possible attacks on petroleum-industry infrastructure.

Iraq's Southern Oil Co. stopped pumping oil after militia troops threatened to attack oil facilities, Agence France-Presse reported, citing an official at the state-run company. Russia's railway monopoly said it will continue shipments from OAO Yukos Oil Co., Russia's largest oil exporter. Concern over stability of Yukos shipments has bolstered prices.

``There is no limit to how high crude oil can go,'' said Carl Larry, an associate director of energy futures at Barclays Capital Inc. in New York. ``There is too much demand and terrorism. There are problems in Iraq, Russia and Venezuela that threaten supply.'' ...

[read more]

Nixon Prolonged War to Win Election 

Newly released transcripts show that three months before the 1972 presidential election, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger talked about when and how to get out of Vietnam. ...

Some historians say it's evidence that Nixon kept American forces engaged in Vietnam to ensure the South Vietnamese government wouldn't collapse before the election. ...

[read more]

Nixon Drunk in 73 

Associated Press, Aug. 8:

Five days into the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, with the superpowers on the brink of confrontation, President Richard Nixon was too drunk to discuss the crisis with the British prime minister, according to newly released transcripts of tape recordings.

Henry Kissinger's assessment of the president's condition on the night of Oct. 11, 1973, is contained in more than 20,000 pages of transcripts of Kissinger's phone calls as the president's national security adviser and secretary of state — records whose privacy he had guarded for three decades. The National Archives released them Wednesday. ...

[read more]

Chalabis Wanted by Iraqi Interim Government 

  Associated Press, Aug 8:  
by Jamie Tarabay
Baghdad - Iraq has issued an arrest warrant for Ahmad Chalabi, a former governing council member, on counterfeiting charges and another for Salem Chalabi, the head of Iraq's special tribunal, on murder charges, Iraq's chief investigating judge said Sunday.

The warrant was a new sign of the fall of Ahmad Chalabi from the centers of power. Chalabi, a longtime exile opposition leader, had been a favorite of many in the Pentagon but fell out with the Americans in the weeks before the U.S. occgupation ended in June.

His nephew, Salem Chalabi, heads the tribunal that is due to try Saddam on war crimes charges.

 "They should be arrested and then questioned and then we will evaluate the evidence, and then if there is enough evidence, they will be sent to trial," said Judge Zuhair al-Maliky.

The warrants, issued Saturday, accused Ahmad Chalabi of counterfeiting old Iraqi dinars - which had been removed from circulation following the fall of Saddam's regime last year, he said.

Ahmad Chalabi appeared to have been hiding the counterfeit money amid other old money and changing it into new dinars in the street, he said.

Police found the counterfeit money along with old dinars in Ahmad Chalabi's house during a May raid, he said.

Salem Chalabi was named as a suspect in the June killing of the Haithem Fadhil, director general of the finance ministry.

Both men were reportedly out of the country Sunday. ...

[read more]

Pakistan Protests US Sting 

BBC, Aug. 9:
Pakistan has protested to the United States over what it says was an FBI sting operation involving a fake plot to kill Pakistan's UN envoy.

slamabad called the operation bizarre and mind-boggling.

A spokesman said it had endangered the life of Munir Akram, Pakistan's permanent envoy to the United Nations.

Two men are being held in the US for allegedly laundering money for an agent posing as a militant who wanted to use a missile to kill Mr. Akram.

Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Masood Khan asked why the US authorities had not picked an American "target" instead.

 "It is mind-boggling why they could not use the name of an American functionary," he told a news conference. .;.

[read more]

Sadr Vows to Fight On 

Associated Press, Aug. 9:

A radical Shiite cleric vowed to fight to the death as his loyalists battled U.S. troops for a fifth straight day Monday, and bombings in Sunni regions outside Baghdad — including a failed attempt to assassinate a deputy governor — killed at least 10 Iraqis. ...

[read more]

Slave Bunnies 

Knight Ridder, Aug. 6:

Is Hugh Hefner a cuddly, sweet septuagenarian or an evil slave master?
The New York Post reports that professional poker player Jill Ann Spaulding claims in a self-published book that the Playboy caliph keeps a dozen "slave bunnies" who are ordered to have sex with him (for $2,000 a week).

"Jill Ann: Upstairs," which details the former Playboy model's brief time behind Playboy Mansion doors, also says the mansion "isn't Barbie's Dreamhouse, but a brokerage house where dangerous sex is traded for stardom." A brokerage house?

Hefner, who has gotten a pass from the media for decades, shrugged it all off, saying "it's a silly book." He added that Spaulding is disgruntled because he rejected her request to live at the mansion.

[read more]

Executive Action 

As governor of Texas, George W. Bush executed more people than any governor in modern American history. But capital punishment was suspended during the initial occupation of Iraq. It has now been reimplemented by the Iraqi interim government.

Associated Press, Aug. 8:

Baghdad — Iraq reinstated capital punishment for people guilty of murder, endangering national security and distributing drugs, the government announced Sunday, saying the death penalty was necessary to help put down the country's persistent insurgency.

The announcement came a day after the government offered an amnesty to Iraqis who committed minor crimes since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime last year. The two laws were part of a carrot-and-stick approach by the government to try to put down the 15-month-old campaign of violence.

Capital punishment was suspended during the U.S. occupation. Under Mr. Hussein's regime, some 114 offenses could garner the death penalty. The new law was more restrictive than that had been. ...

[read more]

Nerds Thwart Big Bro 

Wired News, Aug 5:

Computer programmers are modifying a communications system, originally developed by the U.S. Naval Research Lab, to help Internet users surf the Web anonymously and shield their online activities from corporate or government eyes.

The system is based on a concept called onion routing. It works like this: Messages, or packets of information, are sent through a distributed network of randomly selected servers, or nodes, each of which knows only its predecessor and successor. Messages flowing through this network are unwrapped by a symmetric encryption key at each server that peels off one layer and reveals instructions for the next downstream node. ...

[read more]

Euros Poll Watchers to Monitor US Election 

CNN, Aug. 8:

A team of international observers will monitor the presidential election in November, according to the U.S. State Department.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was invited to monitor the election by the State Department. The observers will come from the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

It will be the first time such a team has been present for a U.S. presidential election.

"The U.S. is obliged to invite us, as all OSCE countries should," spokeswoman Urdur Gunnarsdottir said. "It's not legally binding, but it's a political commitment. They signed a document 10 years ago to ask OSCE to observe elections."

Thirteen Democratic members of the House of Representatives, raising the specter of possible civil rights violations that they said took place in Florida and elsewhere in the 2000 election, wrote to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in July, asking him to send observers. ...

[read more]

Bush's Brain 

Guardian, Aug. 9:

by John Sutherland

The US election is, as they promised, getting very dirty. Karl Rove (Bush's Svengali) is said to have predicted, "By November, they won't even know whose side he fought on." "He", of course, is John Kerry - the would-be next president of America whose Svengalis (less gifted in the black arts than Rove) chose to package him as Lieutenant John, intrepid Swift Boat skipper, acknowledging the ovation of the delegates with a military salute and a crisp "reporting for duty".

Shortly afterwards, the other side hoisted (yet again) the national-security level to orange and releasing their propaganda torpedo. The Democrats can count on the sell-out movie (Fahrenheit 9/11); the Republicans, a book (Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry) that is already No 1 on Amazon's bestseller list a week before publication.

Regnery, the publishing house under whose imprint Unfit for Command appears, is part of the Eagle corporation. Their proud mission is "to provide independent thinkers with perspective and solutions favoring the traditional American values of free enterprise, limited government, and individual liberty". Books, that is, like Wayne LaPierre's Guns, Crime and Freedom (LaPierre is Charlton Heston's successor at the National Rifle Association). ...

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Sunday, August 08, 2004

Defense Wants Cheney to Testify 

CNN, Aug 7:

Fort Bragg, N.C. -- The fifth day of military hearings for Pfc. Lynndie England on charges connected to the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad included a defense request for Vice President Dick Cheney to appear as a witness.

Cheney was among a long wish-list of potential witnesses, which included many of the generals involved with the prison. Defense lawyers did not explain in open court Saturday why they want Cheney's testimony.

The hearing officer, Col. Denise Arn, said she will study the request but gave no indication when or how she might rule. ...

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Headless Hoax  

Oakland Tribune, Aug 8:

East Bay native gets visit from FBI, may face federal charges

by Josh Richman and Chris De Benedetti

A Bay Area man who made a phony video depicting his own beheading by Islamic extremists touched off a media maelstrom and an FBI investigation Saturday.

"It makes a mockery out of the pain and suffering of the families of those who were beheaded in Iraq," said FBI Special Agent LaRae Quy, spokeswoman for the bureau's San Francisco office.

Benjamin Vanderford's hoax is "no joking matter to anybody, including the U.S. government and the FBI," she said.

Vanderford, 22, an East Bay native living in San Francisco, told the Associated Press he had videotaped the bogus beheading months ago at a friend's house in Pleasanton using fake blood. He distributed the 55-second video on the Internet in hopes of drawing attention to his campaign for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors; when his political aspirations waned, he thought the video would serve as social commentary. ...


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Best Defense Against Toe Lickers -- Wooden Shoes 

The "Dutch Solution"

Reuters, Aug. 6:

Amsterdam -- Unsolicited toe-licking would be banned in the Netherlands under a law sought by the Dutch Labor party after police were unable to prosecute a would-be Casanova with a taste for female toes because he had committed no crime.

A police spokesman said Friday a man had been detained after women sunning themselves in Rotterdam's parks and beaches claimed he had snuck up on them and begun to lick their toes.

"The officers had to let him go. Licking a stranger's toes is rather unusual but there is really nothing criminal about it," the spokesman said.

Albert's Secret Passion: A foot fetish
almost stymied Einstein's work
on the theory of relativity.

Dutch press reports said the man, who is about 35, had been licking the toes of strangers for about three years but was only recently caught by police. ...

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The Swiftie Flip Flop 

One of Kerry's new critics had a distinctly different opinion of his military service in 1996

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Pentagon Obits 

The latest combat death listed by the Pentagon:

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Lance Cpl. Larry L. Wells, 22, of Mount Hermon, La., died August 6 due to enemy action in An Najal Province, Iraq.  He was assigned to Unit Battalion Landing Team 1/4, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
For further information related to this release, contact the Camp Pendleton Public Affairs Office at (760) 725-5044.

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Gitmo Report 

BBC, August 4:

Three British men held by the US in Guantanamo Bay for more than two years have compiled a report alleging abuse and humiliation while in captivity. The document, to be released in New York on Wednesday, was being passed on to the Senate Armed Services Committee. The accusations include beatings and one of the men, Ruhal Ahmed, claimed a US guard pointed a gun at his head, in front of a British interrogator. The UK Ministry of Defence said it would investigate any such allegations. There was never any suggestion on the part of the British interrogators that this treatment was wrong. Asef Iqbal, Ruhal Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul - all from Tipton in the West Midlands - returned to Britain in March having spent more than two years without legal representation in American custody - first in Afghanistan, then at Guantanamo Bay. They were then released without charge by British police. Their experiences in captivity now form the basis of a 115-page report, Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo. ...

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