Saturday, September 24, 2005
Karl Rove, President Bush's top political advisor and deputy White House chief of staff, spoke at businessman Teddy Forstmann's annual off the record gathering in Aspen, Colorado this weekend. Here is what Rove had to say that the press wasn't allowed to report on.
On Katrina: The only mistake we made with Katrina was not overriding the local government...
On The Anti-War Movement: Cindy Sheehan is a clown. There is no real anti-war movement. No serious politician, with anything to do with anything, would show his face at an anti-war rally...
On Bush's Low Poll Numbers: We have not been good at explaining the success in Iraq. Polls go up and down and don't mean anything...
On Iraq: There has been a big difference in the region. Iraq will transform the Middle East...
On Judy Miller And Plamegate: Judy Miller is in jail for reasons I don't really understand...
On Joe Wilson: Joe Wilson and I attend the same church but Joe goes to the wacky mass...
In attendance at the conference, among others were: Harvey Weinstein, Brad Grey, Michael Eisner, Les Moonves, Tom Freston, Tom Friedman, Bob Novak, Barry Diller, Martha Stewart, Margaret Carlson, Alan Greenspan, Andrea Mitchell, Norman Pearlstein and Walter Isaacson.
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter has scheduled new hearings into the Able Danger controversy, saying the Pentagon has agreed to lift its gag order on five members of the Army's elite Able Danger intelligence unit who say they identified lead hijacker Mohamed Atta before the 9/11 attacks.
While Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told the Associated Press that there was no change in the agency's position, Specter said in a press release Friday that new hearings featuring testimony from Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and Navy Capt. Scott Philpott, plus three civilian contractors, will take place on Oct. 5.
One unresolved dispute revolves around whether the witnesses will be allowed to testify publicly. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said on Wednesday that the Pentagon "declined to participate in an opening hearing on a classified matter," while permitting the witnesses to testify behind closed doors.
Asked about Whitman's claim that the Pentagon hadn't lifted the gag order, Specter spokesman William Reynolds told the Associated Press that the new agreement did not explicitly state whether the hearing would be open or closed. ...
KWAME HOLMAN: Eighteen months before the Sept. 11 attacks a since-disbanded intelligence unit code named Able Danger identified 60 foreign terror suspects inside the United States. On that list were four of the subsequent 9/11 hijackers including Mohammed Atta, the alleged ring leader of the attacks, who flew the first plane into the World Trade Center. However, attempts by Able Danger team members to share their information with the FBI in February of 2000 were blocked by Pentagon lawyers.
The story of Able Danger first came to light in a New York Times story last month. But attempts this morning by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter to find out why the information wasn't shared hit several dead ends. At the start of an investigative hearing, Specter questioned whether the federal Posse Comitatus Act might have come into play.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: That is a statute which was enacted shortly after the Civil War, which prevents the United States military from being engaged in law enforcement activities. If the Posse Comitatus Act precluded this information from being turned over by the Department of Defense to the FBI, then that is a matter which may require amendments to the Act. ...
Exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky was in Riga along with Neil Bush, the brother of the U.S. president, to discuss an educational project with Latvian businessmen.
Berezovsky and Bush are promoting new educational software developed by Ignite Learning. The software is designated for primary school students teaches curriculum by developing children's thinking and imagination, according to reports.
Much controversy surrounded the meeting, since Berezovsky is wanted for arrest in Russia, and the scandalous Russian businessman, who now lives in London, met with a relative of the U.S. president.
Russian authorities sent an official request to Latvia to extradite the former oligarch, but the request was ignored by Latvian law enforcement officials.
During the visit, Berezovsky met with Parliamentary Chairman Ingrida Udre, former PM Andris Skele, businessman Peteris Smidre and others.
by Doug Thompson
According to the National Enquirer, President George W. Bush, an alcoholic, is drinking again.
In normal times, such a story in a tabloid like the Enquirer would be dismissed as just another fantasy for the newspaper that normally devotes its front page to gossip about celebrity divorces. But an America with Bush as President is anything but normal and too many warning signs point to the sad fact that Dubya the drunk is back on the bottle. Plus we reported the same thing in a story about Bush’s temper tirades on August 25.
Like the President, I’m a recovering alcoholic. Unlike him, I’ve been sober for 11 years, three months and 16 days. Bush says he quit drinking without help from any organized program. I had a lot of help – from family, friends and Alcoholics Anonymous. As an alcoholic, I can say without hesitation that available evidence tells me that Bush is drinking and drinking heavily.
The signs have been there for too long. Bush fell off a couch after, his aides say, “falling asleep.” He has appeared in public with bruises on his face, the kind of injuries a person would suffer from falling in alcohol-impaired conditions. He disappears from public view for extended periods, takes more vacations than other Presidents, has trouble forming words, appears disinterested in public and mangles his sentences. In other appearances he rambles and appears unable to focus. During the Katrina crisis he displayed little emotion or compassion when confronted with the horrors along the Gulf Coast.
This web site reported last year that the White House physician had placed the President on anti-depressants. If Bush is mixing alcohol and anti-depressant drugs his judgment – which is already suspect – is impaired even more.
“The President all too often is out of control,” a White House source tells me. “People are afraid to risk his anger by telling him things he does not want to hear. Newsweek magazine reported the same thing last week in their story: “How Bush Blew It.”
The Enquirer interviewed Dr. Justin Frank, a Washington D.C. psychiatrist and author of Bush On The Couch: Inside The Mind Of The President.
“I do think that Bush is drinking again,” Frank said. “Alcoholics who are not in any program, like the President, have a hard time when stress gets to be great. I think it's a concern that Bush disappears during times of stress. He spends so much time on his ranch. It's very frightening.” ...
by Josh White
Two soldiers and an officer with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division have told a human rights organization of systemic detainee abuse and human rights violations at U.S. bases in Afghanistan and Iraq, recounting beatings, forced physical exertion and psychological torture of prisoners, the group said.
A 30-page report by Human Rights Watch describes an Army captain's 17-month effort to gain clear understanding of how US soldiers were supposed to treat detainees, and depicts his frustration with what he saw as widespread abuse that the military's leadership failed to address. The Army officer made clear that he believes low-ranking soldiers have been held responsible for abuse to cover for officers who condoned it.
The report does not identify the two sergeants and a captain who gave the accounts, although Capt. Ian Fishback has presented some of his allegations in a letter to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
Their statements included vivid allegations of violence against detainees held at Forward Operating Base Mercury, outside Fallujah, shortly before the notorious abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison began. The soldiers described incidents similar to those reported in other parts of Iraq - such as putting detainees in stress positions, exercising them to the point of total exhaustion, and sleep deprivation.
They also detailed regular attacks that left detainees with broken bones - including once when a detainee was hit with a metal bat - and said that detainees were sometimes piled into pyramids, a tactic seen in photographs taken later at Abu Ghraib. ...
Friday, September 23, 2005
Faced with the biggest crisis of his political life, President Bush has hit the bottle again, The National Enquirer can reveal.
Bush, who said he quit drinking the morning after his 40th birthday, has started boozing amid the Katrina catastrophe.
Family sources have told how the 59-year-old president was caught by First Lady Laura downing a shot of booze at their family ranch in Crawford, Texas, when he learned of the hurricane disaster.
His worried wife yelled at him: "Stop, George."
Following the shocking incident, disclosed here for the first time, Laura privately warned her husband against "falling off the wagon" and vowed to travel with him more often so that she can keep an eye on Dubya, the sources add.
"When the levees broke in New Orleans, it apparently made him reach for a shot," said one insider. "He poured himself a Texas-sized shot of straight whiskey and tossed it back. The First Lady was shocked and shouted: "Stop George!"
"Laura gave him an ultimatum before, 'It's Jim Beam or me.' She doesn't want to replay that nightmare — especially now when it's such tough going for her husband."
Bush is under the worst pressure of his two terms in office and his popularity is near an all-time low. The handling of the Katrina crisis and troop losses in Iraq have fueled public discontent and pushed Bush back to drink.
A Washington source said: "The sad fact is that he has been sneaking drinks for weeks now. Laura may have only just caught him — but the word is his drinking has been going on for a while in the capital. He's been in a pressure cooker for months.
"The war in Iraq, the loss of American lives, has deeply affected him. He takes every soldier's life personally. It has left him emotionally drained. ...
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
"Who gives a fuck what the polls say! I'm the President!"
We must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss ... baby
needs a new pair of shoes, yazsa!
by John Nichols
Americans who are familiar only with the almost always empty words - and often empty heads - of this country's political leaders can be a little shocked by George Galloway's pronouncements.
The British parliamentarian, who came of age in the brawling political landscape of his native Scotland, where a quick wit and a savage debating style are prerequisites for electoral success, does not mince words in the manner that most American pols do.
Consider Galloway's statement in response to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath:
"The scenes from the stricken city almost defy belief. Many, many thousands of people left to die in what is the richest, most powerful country on Earth. This obscenity is as far from a natural disaster as George Bush and the U.S. elite are from the suffering masses of New Orleans. The images of Bush luxuriating at his ranch and of his secretary of state shopping for $7,000 shoes while disaster swamped the U.S. Gulf Coast will haunt this administration. ...
Monday, September 19, 2005
by Molly Ivins
... Meanwhile, it's an ill wind that blows no one good, so we should not be surprised to learn the first winner out of the gate on Katrina is Halliburton Co., whose deserving subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root already has been granted a $29.8 million contract for cleanup work in the wake of Katrina.
Of course, no one would suggest Halliburton and its subsidiaries get government contracts (it already has billions of dollars of Iraq rehab work) just because Vice President Dick Cheney is still on the payroll. Heavens no. The veep continues to get deferred pay from the company he once headed--$194,852 last year.
But Cheney has nothing to do with the Halliburton contracts--that, friends, goes through none other than the noted lobbyist and former head of--of all things--the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Since Joe Allbaugh, who was Bush's campaign manager in 2000, announced that he was leaving FEMA in December 2002, it appears he has been busy making sure reconstruction contracts in Iraq go to companies that give generously to the Republican Party.
Now, aren't you ashamed of yourself for thinking there's something wrong with that? Besides, Allbaugh is now with a big-time Washington lobbying firm, where he also represents Shaw Group Inc., and--voila--Shaw Group, too, already has a $100 million emergency contract from FEMA for housing management and construction and a $100 million order from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Katrina repair. ...
ncreasingly overlooked or forgotten by the media in recent weeks, jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miler has still received plenty of upclose and personal support. According to a document, exactly 99 friends or supporters (or former sources) visited her between her July 6 detention and Labor Day. Among them, confirming earlier rumors, was John R. Bolton, the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. ...
“Bolton's visit raised some eyebrows in Washington,” the Post said. “A vocal defender of administration claims in 2003 that Iraq was seeking weapons of mass destruction, he could have had access to a State Department memo, parts of which were classified, that detailed Wilson's trip to Niger to determine whether Iraq was seeking uranium there and identified his wife as a covert CIA operative. Who saw or discussed the memo has been a central question for Fitzgerald.
“Bolton declined through a spokesman to discuss his visit to Miller or his reasons for going. ‘This has nothing to do with his job here,' the spokesman said. 'He doesn't want to talk about it.’” ...
Sunday, September 18, 2005
by Jerry Mitchell (one kick-ass reporter)
[go to original]
Federal officials appear to be seeking proof to blame the flood of New Orleans on environmental groups, documents show.
The Clarion-Ledger has obtained a copy of an internal e-mail the U.S. Department of Justice sent out this week to various U.S. attorneys' offices: "Has your district defended any cases on behalf of the (U.S.) Army Corps of Engineers against claims brought by environmental groups seeking to block or otherwise impede the Corps work on the levees protecting New Orleans? If so, please describe the case and the outcome of the litigation."
Cynthia Magnuson, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said Thursday she couldn't comment "because it's an internal e-mail."
Shown a copy of the e-mail, David Bookbinder, senior attorney for Sierra Club, remarked, "Why are they (Bush administration officials) trying to smear us like this?"
The Sierra Club and other environmental groups had nothing to do with the flooding that resulted from Hurricane Katrina that killed hundreds, he said. "It's unfortunate that the Bush administration is trying to shift the blame to environmental groups. It doesn't surprise me at all." ...