Friday, June 10, 2005
Directly following the hearing, Rep. Conyers, Members of Congress, and concerned citizens plan to hand deliver to the White House the petition and signatures of over a half million Americans that have joined Rep. Conyers in demanding that President Bush answer questions about his secret plan for the Iraq war.
AfterDowningStreet.org is a rapidly growing coalition of veterans' groups, peace groups, and political activist groups, which launched on May 26, 2005, a campaign to urge the U.S. Congress to begin a formal investigation into whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war.
Five U.S. Marines have been killed by a roadside bomb in western Iraq, the military said Friday.
The Marines were killed Thursday while conducting combat operations near the volatile Anbar province Haqlaniyah, 90 miles northwest of Baghdad. ...
Thursday, June 09, 2005
by William Rivers Pitt
Intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. Bush had already made the decision to invade. That's what the leaked secret British intelligence document now known as the Downing Street Minutes tells us from back in time to July of 2002, before discussion of an Iraq invasion had made its way anywhere near public discussion. The decision to invade Iraq had already been made in the summer of 2002, and in order to make that decision a reality, intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy of invasion.
It is interesting. The occupation of Iraq has lasted more than 800 days, and debate over the invasion has been going on for more than a thousand days. In that time, revelation after revelation has been put forth exposing the lies and manipulation used by the Bush administration to make this war happen. The first accusations of Bush administration mendacity on this issue were revealed six months before the invasion took place, in an October 8, 2002, article by Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay titled "Some Administration Officials Expressing Misgivings on Iraq."
"While President Bush marshals congressional and international support for invading Iraq," reads the article, "a growing number of military officers, intelligence professionals and diplomats in his own government privately have deep misgivings about the administration's double-time march toward war. These officials charge that administration hawks have exaggerated evidence of the threat that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein poses - including distorting his links to the al-Qaida terrorist network - have overstated the amount of international support for attacking Iraq and have downplayed the potential repercussions of a new war in the Middle East." ...
... Deeply, primally terrified. Their whole psychological infrastructure is cobbled together out of half-baked conservative bumper-sticker ideology, gun lust, socially illiterate hatred of “welfare cheats” and other largely fictional or apocryphal lazy people (read: niggers and other swarthy folk) who want to leech off of them while they work harder and harder for less and less. Despite a lot of bluster about Freedom and Individuality they are, at heart, happiest when they are conforming to the wishes of the Strong Man; when they know exactly their place in the hierarchy.
Security and Enforced Orderliness is their idea Heaven and Doubt is their Hell, which is why they swarm like mayflies towards simple-minded sloganeering instead of actual, y’know, thinking…and why many of them fall madly in love with Fundamentalism. It’s this anti-Faustian bargain where they get the perfect peace of mind that comes from absolute, swaggering certainty that they are completely right about every single thing. And thrown in at no extra charge, they get Paradise after they die, with the promise that they’ll get to see my sorry ass screaming in agony in a lake of fire on Basic Cable for all eternity.
But in exchange for all of this wonderfulness, they have to hand over their souls to truly evil men. ...
... I had these roaches.
Filthy, plague-bearing exoskells, made my allergies worse, and the little cockblockers would pop out every time I lured a nice lady back to Castle Driftglass & send her screaming. So it was time to send the roaches off to periplanetary Valhalla.
The city had a guy they hired – Jorge Bush – said he knew all about roaches. Now talk to Jorge for five minutes and it’s pretty clear that – how shall I say this? -- alcohol has take more from him that he ever took from alcohol. Low, animal cunning, but not bright. Has some kind of Ganser Syndrome problem – gives only these weird, vague, approximate answers to direct questions. And even though he’s just hired help, he gets really bitchy when you tell him, “Hey, Jorge. How ‘bout just answering the fucking question?”
Big, disturbing gaps in his knowledge, although at the drop of a hat he’ll talk your ear off about lovin’ Sweet Baby Jesus, which is kinda creepy, and I really don’t know what that has to do with killing roaches. ...
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
by Michael Kranish
George W. Bush gave the nation's gambling industry plenty of reason to fear his presidency.
He moved to shut down an Indian-run casino while governor of Texas. He declared in a widely circulated state report that ''Casino gambling is not OK. It has ruined the lives of too many adults, and it can do the same thing to our children." He wooed religious conservatives by boasting in a presidential debate about his ''strong antigambling record."
But as president, Bush has not spoken out against gambling. After promising not to take money from gambling interests, Bush's campaign fund accepted large contributions from gambling-related sources. His 2001 inaugural committee raised at least $300,000 from gambling interests, including gifts from MGM/Mirage, Sands, and a leading slot-machine maker. Bush later appeared at a Las Vegas casino for a fund-raiser for his reelection campaign.
Bush's retreat from his antigambling rhetoric came as Republican lobbyists and activist groups collected tens of millions of dollars from Indian tribes seeking to preserve their casinos. Now those payments are the focus of Senate and Justice Department investigations.
Bush is not the subject of the investigations and denied through a spokesman having anything to do with aiding Indian casino interests. But Bush's aides acknowledge that the president met with Indian gaming leaders at the White House in annual sessions over a four-year period that were arranged by antitax crusader Grover Norquist, in some cases after tribes contributed to Norquist's organization. Norquist and the White House say casinos were not discussed.
As the investigations continue, the politics of gambling are crucial to understanding how some Republican leaders and organizations have profited from the industry. When Bush was a firm opponent of gambling, his position opened the door for GOP lobbyists to court gaming tribes worried about a tough administration policy. After Bush dropped his antigambling rhetoric, lobbyists touted their access, and fund-raising from Indian tribes grew exponentially.
Among the prominent figures who have come under the scrutiny of Senate and federal investigators are Norquist, whose organization received $1.5 million from tribes and fought a tax on Indian casinos; lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a top Bush fund-raiser who earned millions of dollars in fees as a consultant to gaming tribes; and Ralph Reed, the former director of the Christian Coalition who allegedly used some money from Indian gaming tribes to fund his efforts to close down rival casinos and lotteries. House majority leader Tom DeLay, who has said he is strongly antigambling, also has drawn media scrutiny because of his ties to Abramoff and opposition to an Indian gaming tax.
''We had great hopes and expectations when Bush was elected," said Tom Grey, a Methodist minister who heads the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling. But now ''gambling has become the feeding trough" for politicians, he said. ...
by Lou Dobose
Four months after he took the oath of office in 2001, President George W. Bush was the attraction, and the White House the venue, for a fundraiser organized by the alleged perpetrator of the largest billing fraud in the history of corporate lobbying. In May 2001, Jack Abramoff’s lobbying client book was worth $4.1 million in annual billing for the Greenberg Traurig law firm. He was a friend of Bush advisor Karl Rove. He was a Bush “Pioneer,” delivering at least $100,000 in bundled contributions to the 2000 campaign. He had just concluded his work on the Bush Transition Team as an advisor to the Department of the Interior. He had sent his personal assistant Susan Ralston to the White House to work as Rove’s personal assistant. He was a close friend, advisor, and high-dollar fundraiser for the most powerful man in Congress, Tom DeLay. Abramoff was so closely tied to the Bush Administration that he could, and did, charge two of his clients $25,000 for a White House lunch date and a meeting with the President. From the same two clients he took to the White House in May 2001, Abramoff also obtained $2.5 million in contributions for a non-profit foundation he and his wife operated.
Abramoff’s White House guests were the chiefs of two of the six casino-rich Indian tribes he and his partner Mike Scanlon ultimately billed $82 million for services tribal leaders now claim were never performed or were improperly performed. Together the six tribes would make $10 million in political contributions, at Abramoff’s direction, almost all of it to Republican campaigns of his choosing. On May 9, 2001, when he ushered the two tribal chiefs into the White House to meet the President, The Washington Post story that would end his lobbying career and begin two Senate Committee investigations was three years away. (When the Post story broke in February 2004, however, Abramoff and Scanlon, a former Tom DeLay press aide, were already targets of a U.S. Attorney’s investigation in Washington.) ... (link courtesy of Mike H., thanks, dude.)
by Mark Memmott
A simmering controversy over whether American media have ignored a secret British memo about how President Bush built his case for war with Iraq bubbled over into the White House on Tuesday.
At a late afternoon news conference, Reuters correspondent Steve Holland asked Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair about a memo that's been widely written about and discussed in Europe but less so in the USA.
It was the most attention paid by the media in the USA so far to the "Downing Street memo," first reported on May 1 by The Sunday Times of London. The memo is said by some of the president's sharpest critics, such as Democratic Rep. John Conyers (news, bio, voting record) of Michigan, to be strong evidence that Bush decided to go to war and then looked for evidence to support his decision.
The Sunday Times said the memo is the minutes of a meeting that British Prime Minister Tony Blair had with some of his top intelligence and foreign policy aides on July 23, 2002, at 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's official residence. The story said the memo indicates that Blair was told by the head of Britain's MI6 intelligence service that in 2002, the Bush administration was selectively choosing evidence that supported its case for going to war and ignoring anything to the contrary. The war began in March 2003.
"Intelligence and facts were being fixed" by the Bush administration "around" a policy that saw military action "as inevitable," the newspaper quoted from the memo.
"There's nothing farther from the truth," Bush told reporters as Blair stood at his side. "Both of us didn't want to use our military," Bush said in response to a question about the memo. "It was our last option."
Blair added, "The facts were not being 'fixed' in any shape or form at all." ...
The Sunday Times' May 1 memo story, which broke just four days before Britain's national elections, caused a sensation in Europe. American media reacted more cautiously. The New York Times wrote about the memo May 2, but didn't mention until its 15th paragraph that the memo stated U.S. officials had "fixed" intelligence and facts.
Knight Ridder Newspapers distributed a story May 6 that said the memo "claims President Bush ... was determined to ensure that U.S. intelligence data supported his policy." The Los Angeles Times wrote about the memo May 12, The Washington Post followed on May 15 and The New York Times revisited the news on May 20.
None of the stories appeared on the newspapers' front pages. Several other major media outlets, including the evening news programs on ABC, CBS and NBC, had not said a word about the document before Tuesday. Today marksUSA Today's first mention. ...
Monday, June 06, 2005
by Bill Moyers
Washington is a divided city - not between north and south as in Lincoln's time, but between those who can buy all the government they want and those who can't even afford a seat in the bleachers.
It's good to be with you again. Your passion for democracy is inspiring and your enthusiasm contagious. I can't imagine a more exuberant gathering today except possibly at the K Street branch of the Masters of the Universe where they are celebrating their coup at the Securities and Exchange Commission
I wish that I could have attended all your sessions, listened to all the speakers, and heard all the points of view that have been raised here. But thanks to C-Span I was able to catch enough of your proceedings to realize you covered so many subjects and touched on so many ideas that you've left me little to say. That's okay, because as Bob Borosage reminded us back in January, what matters most isn't what is said in Washington but what you do on the ground across the country to build an independent infrastructure, generate ideas, drive local campaigns, persuade the skeptic, organize your neighbors, and carry on the movement at the grassroots for social and economic justice. ...
Senior Democrats are calling for the closure of America's detention centre in Guantanamo, Cuba, saying it has become a "propaganda and recruitment tool" for terrorists in the wake of continued allegations of prisoner abuse.
A leading senator, Joseph Biden of Delaware, suggested the time had come to consider a gradual closure of the facility, arguing its worsening reputation around the world was helping to recruit people bent on hurting the US. ...
The chief of Amnesty International USA alleged Sunday that the Guantanamo Bay detention camp is part of a worldwide network of U.S. jails, some of them secret, where prisoners are mistreated and even killed.
William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty's Washington-based branch, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," defended the human rights group's recent criticism of U.S. treatment of detainees at the naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"The U.S. is maintaining an archipelago of prisons around the world, many of them secret prisons, into which people are being literally disappeared, held in indefinite, incommunicado detention without access to lawyers or a judicial system or to their families," Schulz said.
"And in some cases, at least, we know they are being mistreated, abused, tortured and even killed."
Schulz's comments were the latest in a volley of incriminations and denials between Amnesty and the White House.
London, England-based Amnesty International's report, released May 25, cited "growing evidence of U.S. war crimes" and labeled the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay as "the gulag of our times." ...
by Bob Herbert
The war that nobody talks about - the overwhelmingly one-sided class war - is being waged all across America. Guess who's winning.
A recent front-page article in The Los Angeles Times showed that teenagers are faring poorly in a tight job market because of the fierce competition they're getting from older workers and immigrants for entry-level positions.
On the same day, in the business section, the paper reported that the chief executives at California's largest 100 companies took home a collective $1.1 billion in 2004, an increase of nearly 20 percent over the previous year. The paper contrasted that with the 2.9 percent raise that the average California worker saw last year. ...
Sunday, June 05, 2005
The Downing Street "Memo" is actually a document containing meeting minutes transcribed during the British Prime Minister's meeting on July 23, 2002—a full eight months PRIOR to the invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003. The Times of London printed the text of this document on Sunday, May 1, 2005, but to date US media coverage has been limited. This site is intended to act as a resource for anyone who wants to understand the facts revealed in this document.
The contents of the memo are shocking. The minutes detail how our government did not believe Iraq was a greater threat than other nations; how intelligence was "fixed" to sell the case for war to the American public; and how the Bush Administration’s public assurances of "war as a last resort" were at odds with their privately stated intentions.
When asked, British officials "did not dispute the document's authenticity." and a senior American official has described it as "absolutely accurate." Yet the Bush administration continues to simultaneously sidestep the issue while attempting to cast doubt on the memo’s authenticity. ...
A federal judge has ordered the Defense Department to turn over dozens of photographs and four movies depicting detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq as part of an ongoing lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.
"These images may be ugly and shocking, but they depict how the torture was more than the actions of a few rogue soldiers," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. "The American public deserves to know what is being done in our name. Perhaps after these and other photos are forced into the light of day, the government will at long last appoint an outside special counsel to investigate the torture and abuse of detainees."
The revelation of Deep Throat's identity and the resurrected interest in Watergate brought back a flood of memories for former Democratic Sen. George McGovern, the 1972 political opponent of all the president's men.
McGovern, who now lives part time on Marco Island, told the Daily News on Thursday that the Watergate story is resounding with the public now because the country is in a time of shaken confidence.
"It was a real trauma for the American people to discover this skullduggery was going on all the way up to the president," McGovern said of Watergate. "They're looking to see if there's some clue of this skullduggery going on today."
He added: "I sometimes wish we had a Deep Throat in the administration today" because such a person might reveal why the nation went to war in Iraq.