Tuesday, May 01, 2007

C'mon... this blog is, like, dead, already

Come Join Me On Facebook

I found blogging on Facebook to just be a LOT easier than using Blogger... maybe if I get super famous or something I'll start a -real- blog, but if you're just a friend or a fan (or an enemy) looking to touch base, Facebook is the site where you'll find me. MySpace is ugly and clunky and so overly alterable that some people's too-complex pages slow my top-of-the-line computer to a dead crawl. Twitter is for mobile phones, and I can't be bothered to pay $120/year to AT&T Mobile for a no-limit text messaging program. Friendster is like an abandoned strip mall, and seems like it's mostly full of junkies, pimps & whores (oh my). WAYN? No one uses it. XING? I'm not Chinese. No, it's Facebook for me for the forseeable future, so if you'd like to keep getting a daily dose of anti-establishment smarm, you know what to do: go to Facebook.com and add "Micah Ian Wright" as a "friend" (or frenemy, I don't care which you are) and enjoy.

So long, Google!

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=622546618

Friday, March 23, 2007

Gates, Gonzales, & Gitmo

Soon after he was confirmed as Secretary of Defense, Bob Gates began to advocate closing down Guantanamo Bay, according to The New York Times, reports. He argued that the base "had become so tainted abroad that legal proceedings at Guantanamo would be viewed as illegitimate."

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice backed him up. But they had a powerful contingent opposing them:

Mr. Gates’s arguments were rejected after Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and some other government lawyers expressed strong objections to moving detainees to the United States, a stance that was backed by the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, administration officials said.

...[T]he high-level discussions about closing Guantánamo came to a halt after Mr. Bush rejected the approach, although officials at the National Security Council, the Pentagon and the State Department continue to analyze options for the detention of terrorism suspects.
The main logic for Cheney's and Gonzales' opposition was two-fold. First and foremost was the reason that Gitmo was created, because bringing the prisoners to American soil would make things much more complicated -- because of American law. Second was that, even though Bush has said that he wants to eventually close Gitmo, "closing it would be seen as a public admission of an incorrect policy" (i.e. much better for Bush to go back on his word than reverse a disastrous policy).

For now, Gates and Rice are on the losing side of the debate. But that might not last too much longer:

Even so, one senior administration official who favors the closing of the facility said the battle might be renewed.
“Let’s see what happens to Gonzales,” that official said, referring to speculation that Mr. Gonzales will be forced to step down, or at least is significantly weakened, because of the political uproar over the dismissal of United States attorneys. “I suspect this one isn’t over yet.”
Yeah, well, maybe. I personally don't think that this President is smart enough to cut bait and dump Alberto Gonzales before this investigation creeps its way into the Oval Office.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

AttorneyGate Reaches Into Vice President's Office

Oh My God...

This scandal not only has legs, it suddenly now has the potential to run the distance and bring down George W. Bush.

Some background:

Carol Lam, the fired US Attorney for San Diego was the prosecutor who nailed Republican Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham for accepting bribes from defense contractor Mitchell Wade. The biggest bribe involved a scam where Wade purchased Cunningham's home for $1,675,000, then sold it 2 months later for under $975,000. Wade also bought Cunningham several pieces of antique furniture as undeclared gifts. Like $50,000 Louis XVII dressers type of gifts. Most amusingly, Wade bought Duke Cunningham a boat which the Congressman named "The Duke-Stir." In return, Duke slipped defense contracts worth several millions of dollars to Wade by secretly earmarking them into the top-secret House Intelligence Committee budget which no one is allowed to read. Because the earmarking rules don't require any one Congressman take blame/credit for slipping shit into the budget, Cunningham's shenanigans went unnoticed for several years... but once noticed, the San Diego US Attorney's office prosecuted Cunningham & Wade with vigor. Both are currently in jail.

Carol Lam rolled Wade up and flipped him on his Republican cronies to see who else he'd bribed or been involved with. She discovered another corrupt contractor had been playing the same schemes with Cunningham, one Brent Wilkes, who had been throwing "Hookers & Poker" parties at the Watergate Hotel for Republican Congressmen & Senators. Lam nailed Wilkes, then flipped HIM and kept climbing the ladder of corruption.

On May 10, 2006, Lam notified the Justice Department that she intended to execute search warrants on a high-ranking CIA official as part of a corruption probe. The very next day, Kyle Sampson, Alberto Gonzales' right-hand-man (and The White House's designated Fall Guy for this entire scandal) sent an e-mail to another fellow Justice Department official that said "because of the real problem we have right now with Carol Lam" she needed to be fired. A week later, Lam was informed that the President no longer required her services. She clearly what was happening and prepared for her resignation -- and then, on the day before she resigned, Lam indicted the #3 guy at the CIA, Dusty Foggo, forcing Porter Goss, George Bush's hand-picked CIA director, to resign.

More importantly, Lam was in the middle of leveraging her continuing investigation into super-crook-congressman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) when she was told "hey, you're fired" by the White House/Justice Department. This clearly partisan firing has been at the true center of the entire AttorneyGate scandal raging in Washington.


But now a MUCH more interesting picture is emerging, one that reaches all the way up into the White House itself and could bring down this Presidency in flames if true:

The facts:

– Wade pled guilty last February to paying then-California Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham more than $1 million in bribes.

– Wade confessed that his company MZM Inc., which had NEVER received ANY government contracts was "somehow" placed on a list of approved Government Contractors.

– Wade/MZM received its first federal contract just one week later from the White House. The contract, which ran from July 15 to August 15, 2002, stipulated that Wade be paid $140,000 to “provide office furniture and computers for Vice President Dick Cheney.”

– Two weeks later, on August 30, 2002, Wade purchased a yacht for $140,000 for Duke Cunningham, the “Duke-Stir.”

– According to Cunningham’s sentencing memorandum, the purchase price of the boat had been negotiated through a third-party earlier that summer, around the same time the White House contract was signed.

To recap, the White House awarded a one-month, $140,000 contract to an individual who had never held a previous federal contract. Two weeks after he got paid, that same contractor used a cashier’s check for exactly that amount to buy a boat for a now-imprisoned congressman at a price that the congressman had pre-negotiated weeks earlier.


Sooo....one of the fired Federal Prosecutors was inches from tying Dick Cheney to a $140,000 bribe paid to a convicted former Congressman. Then she was suddenly fired for supposedly not bringing enough good illegal immigration cases... despite having been given special notices for doing exactly that a year earlier. Hmmm.


Yeah, Karl Rove and Harriet Miers shouldn't have to testify under oath. They clearly have no reason to lie and far too much respect for the rule of law. Those damned partisan Democrats!

It's a bit like convicting Al Capone for Tax Evasion and ignoring the underlying murders, but hey at this point, I'll take Impeachment any way that I can get it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Bush Orders Wounded Troops Into Iraq

This guy is just fucking astonishing. No sooner than I finished my last post about Bush's VA fucking over wounded troops, I stumbled across this Salon.com article which says that Bush is ordering wounded troops into Iraq.

WHY does ANYONE still believe that this piece of crap "supports the troops"? Military veterans and families are like abused wives here... no matter how much Bush shits all over them, they love him all the more for it. It's dissociative from reality and it's extremely disturbing.

As the military scrambles to pour more soldiers into Iraq, a unit of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Ga., is deploying troops with serious injuries and other medical problems, including GIs who doctors have said are medically unfit for battle. Some are too injured to wear their body armor, according to medical records.

On Feb. 15, Master Sgt. Jenkins and 74 other soldiers with medical conditions from the 3rd Division's 3rd Brigade were summoned to a meeting with the division surgeon and brigade surgeon. These are the men responsible for handling each soldier's "physical profile," an Army document that lists for commanders an injured soldier's physical limitations because of medical problems -- from being unable to fire a weapon to the inability to move and dive in three-to-five-second increments to avoid enemy fire. Jenkins and other soldiers claim that the division and brigade surgeons summarily downgraded soldiers' profiles, without even a medical exam, in order to deploy them to Iraq. It is a claim division officials deny.

The 3,900-strong 3rd Brigade is now leaving for Iraq for a third time in a steady stream. In fact, some of the troops with medical conditions interviewed by Salon last week are already gone. Others are slated to fly out within a week, but are fighting against their chain of command, holding out hope that because of their ills they will ultimately not be forced to go. Jenkins, who is still in Georgia, thinks doctors are helping to send hurt soldiers like him to Iraq to make units going there appear to be at full strength. "This is about the numbers," he said flatly.

That is what worries Steve Robinson, director of veterans affairs at Veterans for America, who has long been concerned that the military was pressing injured troops into Iraq. "Did they send anybody down range that cannot wear a helmet, that cannot wear body armor?" Robinson asked rhetorically. "Well that is wrong. It is a war zone." Robinson thinks that the possibility that physical profiles may have been altered improperly has the makings of a scandal. "My concerns are that this needs serious investigation. You cannot just look at somebody and tell that they were fit," he said. "It smacks of an overstretched military that is in crisis mode to get people onto the battlefield."
It's exceptionally clear to anyone who's not retarded that the only things George W. Bush Jr. thinks America's soldiers are good for are (a) enriching himself and his upper class friends by sacrificing their lives for Iraq's oil, and (b) Photo Opportunities and Speech Backdrops:

President Fails To Support Troops

Yet again, we learn that Republicans are long on talk about "Supporting The Troops" but very short on action when it comes time to actually give them support, whether that be proper training, proper armor, proper equipment and now, with the Walter Reed filthy-hospital scandal, proper care.

But in all the talk in recent weeks about medical care for injured veterans, the conventional wisdom has been that despite all the shortcomings, those with the most severe injuries receive great care. Today, A Page One story in the NY Times reveals that may not always be the case. The paper talked to several families of veterans who suffered severe brain injuries who say the military health-care system either abandoned hope for their loved ones too early or failed to provide options that could improve the situation. In one case, the Army basically told a veteran that he would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, but three months after going elsewhere for rehabilitation, he is walking again.

Nice! Bush has finally turned the VA into an HMO! So much for "support the troops" -- at least when it comes to GW Bush.

Terrorists Come In All Shapes, Colors

The Washington Posthas a story today about Europe's recent experiences with attempted racial/ethnic profiling of Terrorists, and it devastates the American right-wing's arguments about how we need to ethnically profile Americans.

Seems that European Authorities are seeing more people from different backgrounds or characteristics that don't follow the patterns that were once the norm for terrorists. Some European intelligence officials say that terrorist organizations are purposefully recruiting these types of people so they won't be the targets of unwanted attention. The suggestion of the experts that we should be focusing on suspicious behavior and not skin color probably won't sink in to the Michelle Malkin's of our political world, but one hopes that the people in charge of protecting us are paying attention anyway, though I highly doubt the FBI is.

The demographics of those being arrested are so diverse that many European counterterrorism officials and analysts say they have given up trying to predict what sorts of people are most likely to become terrorists. Age, sex, ethnicity, education and economic status have become more and more irrelevant.

European authorities said the trait patterns of those arrested on terrorism charges are constantly shifting. In the Netherlands, officials said they are seeing an increase in the number of young teenagers and people of Turkish descent, two groups that used to be low on their radar. Among the key players in the Hofstad group, a cell of Islamic radicals that targeted Dutch politicians and cultural figures, was Jason Walters, the teenage son of a U.S. soldier.

In neighboring Belgium, people are still perplexed over what drove Muriel Degauque, 38, a blond, white Catholic, to convert to Islam and travel to Iraq to blow herself up in November 2005. Nizar Trabelsi, convicted two years earlier of plotting to bomb a NATO base in Belgium, had been a European soccer star before going to Afghanistan to attend al-Qaeda training camps.

In Britain, three of the suspects arrested in last summer's alleged transatlantic airline hijacking plot were religious converts who grew up in north London's affluent suburbs. One was the well-to-do English son of a Conservative Party activist; he worked in a bar and loved the movie "Team America."
It's all true... just look at THIS surveillance photo of the most dangerous Terrorists in the United States:

White House Admits Karl Rove's Involvement in Firing US Attorneys



White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Rove relayed complaints from Republican officials and others to the Justice Department and the White House counsel's office. She said Rove, the chief White House political operative, specifically recalled passing along complaints about former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias and may have mentioned the grumblings about Iglesias to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Iglesias says he lost his job as the top federal prosecutor in New Mexico after rebuffing Republican pressure to speed his investigation of Democratic officials in the state.

Rove said he did not suggest that any of the U.S. attorneys be forced to resign, Perino said.

The new details about Rove's involvement in the firings emerged as the top Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee declared their interest in talking to him. The committee is trying to determine whether the firings were part of an effort to exert political influence over federal prosecutions.
This is a smoking gun which ties Rove (and thus Bush) directly to the firings of United States Attorneys for refusing to engage in partisan witch-hunts, and for firing US Attorneys who dared investigate Republican criminals... clear Obstruction of Justice. So why is the White House releasing this information?

Two reasons: (a) they're off their game because they have no idea how to spin a hostile Congress, having never faced one before, and (b) because the Senators, Congressmen and state Republican apparatchiks involved have already spoken out that they delivered their findings to Rove... the White House is just trying to get ahead of the story and desperately trying to spin this entire event as "disgunted ex-employees" who got fired for "just causes" and "who cares anyway, it's an internal Human Resources issue" -- when it's clearly politically motivated and illegal.

Several of the prosecutors who were fired were fired because they investigated Republicans with connections to the White House. Two of them were STILL investigating well-connected Republicans when they got fired. That's obstruction of justice, hindrance of a federal prosecution and a whole slew of other FELONY crimes. The kind of felony crimes that can take down Alberto Gonzales & Karl Rove at the bare minimum.

Not to mention that the President's men secretly rewrote the Patriot Act in the middle of the night stripping Congress of Federal oversight of US Attorney hiring without telling ANYONE, including the Republicans in the Senate. That's enough power-play to infuriate any Senator who might be willing to hinder this investigation.

This is it. This is this Administration's Watergate, Monicagate, Iran-Contragate, etc. We've just begun to skin this onion, and each layer is going to reveal a new, seamier, more rotten layer beneath. Using this one crime, we can finally leverage out all of the wrongdoing these scumbags have accomplished since they took office, and EVERYONE can understand this one: They fired some guys who were investigating them. That's what finally woke up America during Watergate, the "Saturday Night Massacre" when Nixon fired everyone at the Justice Department to prevent them from investigating him. That's what we're really talking about here... these prosecutors were on the trail of guys connected to the White House, so they had to go. Even an idiot could understand it.

Now let's just see if the morons in the Corporate Media get it and if they're able to frame it in such simple terms.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Pssst, Uncle Sam Can See You Naked

This is a picture of Susan Hallowell, who runs the Transportation Security Administration's research lab. Four years ago, she volunteered to be scanned by a backscatter x-ray machine, which sees through clothing. She was wearing a skirt and blazer. But in the picture, she's as good as nude.

Now it's your turn.

Like retarded children drooling over old comic-book ads for "X-Ray Specs!" and daydreaming of actually being able to see through clothing and and leer shapely women, America Top Cops™ at the Homeland Security Department/Transportation Security Administration have decided that in order for you to be Safe From Terror™, they have to be able to take naked photos of you.

Now, any kid with half a brain knew that X-Ray Specs were a novelty gag that didn't really work. But time marches on and technology makes the impossible possible. Get ready, air travelers, because this week the Homeland Security Department began using backscatters at airports to screen passengers for weapons. The first machine is up and running in Phoenix, Arizona. The next ones will be in New York and Los Angeles.

Are you ready to get naked to protect your country from Osama Bin Laden™?

This is no joke. The government desperately craves to look under your clothes. Ceramic knives, plastic guns, and liquid explosives have supposedly all made metal detectors obsolete. Carry-on bags are X-rayed, so the safest place to hide a weapon is on your body. Puffer machines can detect explosives on you, but only if you're sloppy. Backscatters are different. They can scan your whole surface, locating and identifying anything of unusual density—not just metals, which have high atomic numbers, but also explosives or, say, large sums of money and/or drugs, which have low ones.

Which may be the real reason the TSA is rolling out these types of scans. Not for the terrorists... but in order to help them catch people with undeclared cash or drugs on them. Hurrah! Another way to tie together the War On Terror™ with the War on Drugs™!

Of course, the TSA has downplayed the privacy concerns about these backscatter x-rays, saying that they've imposed very rigid protocols for this early "experimental" and "voluntary" use of backscatter x-rays. In Phoenix, for example, the TSA screener operating the machine can't see you in person -- he's in an entirely different airport terminal entirely. The idea being that it's totally cool for you to be strip-searched so long as you don't have to look at the face of the guy doing it to you via remote, I suppose. Additionally, the TSA's backscatter x-ray machines won't currently identify you by name, nor do they currently save scans of your naked body, nor do they currently print out scans of your naked body (as always, the key is their emphasis on the word CURRENTLY, of course). The TSA was also forced by privacy activists to "distort" the images the machine produces. Here are some examples of the "distorted" images:



Note that the sexual organs of both the male and female are very clearly visible

More importantly, the TSA's "voluntary submission" and "very rigid protocols" are just the proverbial camel's nose under the tent. It's very clear that someday everyone, without exception, will need to go through one of these things to get on an airplane. Of course, once that legal justification is made, then there isn't much reason that you can't be required to go through a backscatter everywhere else. To take a train. To get on a bus. To enter any courthouse or federal building. Every day at school. Private businesses.

And once we get to the point of private businesses requiring this technology ("but we Have To... it'll keep Puff Daddy's rap protégé from sneaking handguns into our club!"), then we immediately lose the strict procedures which are currently set in place for the TSA. Worse, there's no proof and it's not very likely that these proceedures will be enforeced at non-experimental airports once the program rolls out wide.

Think about the airport today... the TSA has proven completely incapable of getting luggage x-ray machines out of the lobbies of our airport terminals after SIX YEARS. Still we have to step up, check in, watch that luggage belt rotate behind the counter uselessly, then trudge with our luggage to a different part of the lobby, then undergo a pointless explosives residue test, then take the luggage to a different part of the lobby and stand in a NEW line and drop it off with the TSA who x-rays it right there in the middle of what used to be space for walking and THEN puts the luggage on the conveyor belt.

Where the hell are they going to put these x-ray strip show machines BUT in the middle of the lobby? Great, a new line to stand in. Oh, and for everyone standing behind the TSA guy to be able to see you naked. Sweet! Humliate Yourself For America!

Corporations will claim it's too much work, takes too many employees, etc. to have 2 people scanning entrants. People will rig their private machines to make jpegs, etc. Then we'll all be naked all the time. How better to cow and scare and terrify the Little People than to expose them in all their flabby nakedness?

Oh, and it'll only be the Little People, don't fool yourself. The powerful and wealthy won't be subjected to this bullshit... they'll just bypass all security just like they already do. No, this invasive bullshit is just for us plebes.

And in case you think I'm being overreactionary, think about this: Because of concerns about killing people with radiation, body scanners are designed not to penetrate the skin. All that's needed to defeat this entire system is for is someone heavily overweight to go through the system with a weapon or explosives pack tucked into a flabby body fold and it won't be detected by the scanner. For that matter, how big of an issue is it -REALLY- for a Terrorist who's perfectly willing to die for Allah to shove 10 pounds of C4 explosive up his ass in order to sneak it onto a plane?

Lastly, consider this simple question: would this technology have prevented 9/11? Answer: No. Those 19 men took common household objects on board that plane with them and then used them as weapons. Any of you could do today exactly what Mohammed Atta did with 19 friends armed with metal coat hangers and aluminum soda cans torn in half.

No, once again, this is baloney fake-o protection designed to make America FEEL safe while simultaneously stripping our Civil Liberties from us AND simultaneously shift tax dollars from the poor and working class to the wealthy connected few who own these defense corporations.

The Military-Industrial-Terrorism-Drug-Complex strikes again.

Our Helicopters Are Still Falling...

I've been meaning to following up on this earlier post about the newfound ability of Iraqi Insurgents to shoot down America's helicopters, the government's attempted coverup of the incidents, and the exposure and admittance of the facts by the military, for three weeks now.

A few weeks ago, I read a NYTimes Article about this very topic, which had a few interesting things to say:

Some aspects of the recent crashes indicate that insurgents have become smarter about anticipating American flight patterns and finding ways to use old weapons to down helicopters, according to military and witness reports. The aircraft, many of which are equipped with sophisticated antimissile technology, still can be vulnerable to more conventional weapons fired from the ground. [...]

American officials emphasize that a new sense of coordinated aggressiveness on the part of insurgents toward attacking aircraft, or even luck, may be playing as large a role in the high pace of crashes as improved skill and tactics among insurgents. [...]

Historically, improved tactics in shooting down helicopters have proved to be important factors in conflicts in which guerrillas have achieved victories against major powers, including battles in Somalia, Afghanistan and Vietnam.
Oh, well, that's a positive predictor reflecting our chances for victory in Iraq, isn't it?

I also discovered this helpful Wikipedia Article which details every single coalition (i.e. American) aircraft lost in this war. If one includes the two Blackwater Mercenary (oh, sorry, Private Military Contractor) choppers shot down in January & February, that brings the number of downed choppers to 9 in the first nine weeks of 2007 alone. There were only 13 in all of 2006, 12 in 2005, 26 in 2004, and 30 in 2003.

Something tells me we're heading for a 2003-type number this year. Maybe even double 2003's numbers if this rate of loss keeps up. As for what the new "secret method" that the Insurgency is quite clearly using, it's only a secret to the American people since evidently the Press is obviously cooperating with the Military to keep news of this "secret attack style" out of the papers... why, is uncertain, because it's super-clear that the "insurgents" (which, incidentally, if Americans, would be called "freedome fighters" or "the resistance") have discovered that if you shoot out the tail rotor of a helicopter it crashes. Yeah, that's something the papers desperately need to hide... otherwise printing that secret information might give the insurgents more ideas!

Errhm... too bad Roy Schieder taught us all what it was in BLUE THUNDER back when I was 14.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Bush's Idea of "Justice"

Wow.

The Bush White House has fucked up BIG TIME this time.

In case you haven't been following it, here's a quick rundown of the Justice Department Prosecutor Firing scandal:

Over a period of three weeks during December & January, each timed deliberately for Friday afternoons in order to make any press reports go unnoticed, the Justice Department fired 7 Federal Prosecutors. That's not newsworthy, except in the numbers involved... Federal Prosecutors work at the discretion of the President, and they are occasionally fired with cause. What was weird about these firings was that no cause was publicly given, and interim appointees were announced, but weren't then scheduled to go before the Senate, which is supposed to approve all new Federal Prosecutors within 120 days.

The biggest case so far has been in San Diego, where Prosecutor Carol Lam was in the middle of the largest public corruption investigation in the history of the United States (the Duke Cunningham scandal, which has already brought down 2 Republican Congressmen & the #3 guy at the CIA with much more on the way) when she was suddenly fired for doing "a bad job on border cases" as the Justice Department later said. This despite the Justice Dept. sending a letter just a few months ago to Senator Dianne Feinstein saying that Lam was doing a great job on border cases.

Three of California's four United States attorneys resigned in two months. Two of them we know were actually asked to step down on December 7th: San Diego's Carol Lam and San Francisco's Kevin Ryan, but the other, Los Angeles' Debra Wong Yang, stepped down November 10th, just after the election. On January 1st, she left for the heavy-hitting law firm that just happened to be representing Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), who is being investigated by her office.

So, by mid-January, it had become quite clear that some of these Prosecutors were fired because they wouldn't indict Democrats in tight House & Senate races, despite pressure and demands being made by the Justice Department, various Senators & House members and the White House. Others were fired because they opened up investigations into Republicans during the same time period. And if that's not enough, the former U.S. attorney in Maryland said today that he was forced out of his position in 2005 because of political pressure not to pursue an investigation involving associates of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican.

But none of the Prosecutors would speak on the record, and neither would the Justice Department. AG Alberto Gonzales even claimed that he had "no idea" how many prosecutors had been fired by his office in the last six months.

Two days later, news broke that Sen. John Ensign (R-NV} was told that the decision to remove U.S. attorneys, primarily in the West, was part of a plan to "give somebody else that experience" to build up the back bench of Republicans by giving them high-profile jobs. Since last March, the administration has named at least nine U.S. attorneys long on ties to the Bush administration ties but short on the type of experience one needs to be a US Attorney. They include a former aide to Karl Rove, a member of the secretive, ideologically conservative Federalist Society, a former aide to Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the husband of assistant secretary of homeland security Julie Myers, a former Justice Department counselor, a protege of conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, an acting assistant attorney general in Oklahoma City, a senior associate counsel to President Bush, and a Bush Administration civil rights lawyer. For this crop of exceedingly poor candidates, other qualified experienced prosecutors were forced out. The theory seems to be to pump up their resumes in order to get them ready to be crammed into the Federal Judiciary & someday onto the Supreme Court itself. Charming. Still, the Justice Department denied all and claimed that all prosecutors had been fired for just causes.

Then, in late January, in New Mexico, one of the prosecutors broke their silence and said that he had been threatened by two elected members of Congress that if he didn't speed up prosecutions of Democrats, he'd be fired by the White House. This was a Republican prosecutor, mind you, appointed by the Bush White House. Every member of the NM Congressional Caucus denied that it was them. Then hearings were announced to begin yesterday and that all of the fired Prosecutors would be testifying.

Then suddenly last Friday, after weeks of stonewalling and lying, Senator Pete Domenici admitted that he was one of the elected people who had called the NM Prosecutor, but denied pressuring him. The Senate Ethics Committee opened an investigation into Domenici yesterday. Then yesterday, 8 hours before being named by the Prosecutor in question, House member Heather Graham admitted that she was the other who had called him, but denied pressuring him, clumsily claiming that she had merely been asking if everything was going a-ok with those indictments of her Democratic opponent two weeks before her re-election race. So now Graham will be investigated by the House Ethic Committee, and everything will be great, right?

Except today it was revealed that Republican Representative Doc Hastings of Washington, the former CHAIRMAN of the House Ethics Committee, and still ranking Republican on the House Ethics Committee was one of the people demanding a partisan investigation, this one to help oust the Democratic Governor of Washington... and when he didn't get it, suddenly that Prosecutor was fired by the White House, too. Whoops. Guess that says a lot about how Hastings ran the Ethics Committee when he was in charge of it... problem is, he's still the #1 Republican on it and can stop any investigation of himself or Heather Graham.

More, one of the recently fired Prosecutors claimed under oath before the Senate today that the Deputy Attorney General's Chief of Staff, Michael Elston, called all of these prosecutors last week and told them that if they didn't stop encouraging Congress for an investigation into their firings and giving quotes to the press, that the Justice Department would "take their gloves off" and start punching back, revealing "damaging" material from their personnel files. Of course, this is the very definition of obstruction of justice, which may also be why the official at the DOJ who was put in charge of firing these prosuctors, Michael A. Battle, resigned this morning. Watch this awesome video of the fired prosecutors talking about their "Witness Intimidation" cases they would spin out of what happened to them:


Most amazingly, it turns out that the White House's new appointees weren't planned to EVER go before the Senate for confirmation. Why? Because the Justice Department requested that a staffer on Orrin Hatch's Senate Staff secretly slip a tiny revision into the text of the Patriot Act revision last year, a tiny change which granted the Executive Branch the unprecedented power to fire & hire Federal Prosecutors without oversight by the Senate or the Federal Judiciary (which formerly had to the power to make temporary appointments if the White House and Senate wouldn't or didn't act within 120 days).

That staffer just -happens- to be be a former clerk of Clarence Thomas, and was hired at the exact moment that Arlen Spector was in trouble in his primary last year about seeming not Republican enough and being perceived as an enemy of the White House. The law was signed in March of last year and Bush immediately began pushing out Prosecutors without anyone recognizing a pattern until he fired 7 over 3 weeks time. We still don't know the total number forced out prior to the Christmas Slaughter.
http://www.slate.com/id/2161260?nav=ais

To make yourself even more sick, click "More from this user" on YouTube to see TalkingPointsMuckracker's outtakes from today's Senate Investigations and watch some of today's testimony.

Finally, these are just the 8-15 Federal prosecutors who RESISTED political pressure to indict Democrats who were in tight races with Republicans. The shoe yet to drop is "How many Federal Prosecutors gave in to political pressure to indict Democrats leading up to November 2006?" In early February, a study of reported federal investigations of elected officials and candidates shows that the Bush administration’s Justice Department pursues Democrats far more than Republicans. 79 percent of elected officials and candidates who’ve faced a federal investigation (a total of 379) between 2001 and 2006 were Democrats, the study found – only 18 percent were Republicans... but Democrats only made up 50 percent of elected officeholders and office seekers while 41 percent were Republicans during that period, according to the study. "The chance of such a heavy Democratic-Republican imbalance occurring at random is 1 in 10,000," according to the study's authors.


This scandal takes down Alberto Gonzales at the very least. With any luck and a few more weeks of investigations, maybe even Bush himself if public understanding of the case picks up. I wouldn't bet on Bush because at this point he's got stronger teflon than John Gotti, but I'll take an even-money bet that Alberto Gonzales will be out on his ass by the end of this year.

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/cats/us_attorneys/
http://www.slate.com/id/2160965/

Friday, February 16, 2007

I'm Big In the U.K.


I made UK Metro!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Here Comes War With Iran

Weird... I wonder if THIS story

Military Ties Iran To Arms In Iraq
Explosives Supplied To Shiite Militias, U.S. Officials Say
Washington Post Foreign Service

BAGHDAD, Feb. 11 -- Senior U.S. military officials in Iraq sought Sunday to link Iran to deadly armor-piercing explosives and other weapons that they said are being used to kill U.S. and Iraqi troops with increasing regularity.

During a long-awaited presentation, held in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, the officials displayed mortar shells, rocket-propelled grenades and a powerful cylindrical bomb, capable of blasting through an armored Humvee, that they said were manufactured in Iran and supplied to Shiite militias in Iraq for attacks on U.S. and Iraqi troops.

"Iran is a significant contributor to attacks on coalition forces, and also supports violence against the Iraqi security forces and the Iraqi people," said a senior defense official, who was joined by a defense analyst and an explosives expert, both also from the military. The analyst's exact titles and full names were not revealed to reporters. The officials released a PowerPoint presentation including photographs of the weaponry, but did not allow media representatives to record, photograph or videotape the briefing or the materials on display.
Could possibly have anything to do with THIS story?
The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan passes two fishermen in their small boat as it leaves for its second deployment in a year from North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado, California January 27, 2007. The Reagan is the third aircraft carrier headed to the Persian Gulf to support war efforts in Iraq. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
Naaah... I mean, big deal, so Bush is sending 3 out of our 10 aircraft carrier groups that currently cover the entire world to an area the size of my backyard just off the coast of Iran. That doesn't NECESSARILY mean that he's "secretly" planning to bomb the shit out of Iran... right? Oh, look over there, Anna Nicole Smith just died! Pay no attention to the war about to break out over here, look at the dead "celebrity"!!!

Huh, well, it worked for most people and almost all the Mainstream News Media... you must be one of those people who have that irritating habit of "thinking." Well, read on, then, smartass.

Sadly, though, even if America DOES decide to bomb the shit out of Iran using our mighty aircraft carriers, we might find that they're one HELL of a lot more capable of fighting back than Iraq ever was. See, the Iranians own several Russian-made SUNBURN anti-ship cruise missiles which will hurl 750 pounds of explosives towards our "mighty" aircraft carriers at an unstoppable Mach 2.1 -- you've heard of the sub-sonic French Exocet missile which sank British ships during the Falklands war? Compared to the super-sonic Sunburn, the Exocet is like a birthday candle compared to an atomic bomb. Here's a really horrifying article which makes clear what awaits our Navy should Bush think that he's Tuff Enuff™ to take on Iran... we're going to get our asses HANDED to us, courtesy of modern Russian missile design. Each of those carriers has 3100 US sailors on it plus the thousands more on the surrounding ships... I wonder what America's reaction will be when over 10,000 American sailors are killed in a single day by the Iranians after Bush starts his new, illegal war?

Worse, take a look at a map of the Persian Gulf... it's a GODDAMNED LAKE, with the Straights of Hormuz at the mouth. Iran controls the Straights of Hormuz, the only way in or out of the Persian Gulf... and with Iran's Sunburn missiles at the ready, whose Navy is going to come to our rescue? No one's... not even ours.

The writing has been on the wall for the Aircraft Carrier Battle Group concept for a LONG time... there's a reason that China hasn't built a bunch of them: they don't work in a world where a supersonic Sunburn cruise missile (which costs less than a single jet fighter on that aircraft carrier) can sink an entire carrier within a matter of seconds.

Sadly, though, we have an idiot for a President, a warmongering fool intent on defying all reality. Every foreign policy problem we have today can be directly tied back to Bush's desire to impose his fanciful visions onto the real world. When Bush desired to invade Iraq, he folded Saddam and Osama together into one Arch Enemy and he lied to the American people about Saddam having nuclear weapons. We all know how well THAT turned out.

Similarly, when Bush wanted to hide his intent to invade Iraq from the American people, he concocted the "Axis of Evil" starring Iraq, Iran & North Korea. The second he did so, he put Iran and North Korea on notice that he intended to invade them next (even if he didn't mean to), and he put us on the path to inevitable war with these two countries. He also silenced Iran's moderates who were seeking reapproachment with America... possibly permanently.

When Bush bombs Iran (or allows Israel to overfly Iraqi airspace in order to bomb Iran), we will give the Mullahs the excuse they need to crack down on their own people and to strike out against us. They're very likely to kick our ass in the process, a humiliation for which jingoistic, militarized America is VERY unready.

Our economy is increasingly based solely on Military Keynesianism. Given our outrageous foreign debts and the fact that we have offshored all manufacturing jobs, we now command our forefront in world finance based solely on our perceived military might as the world's last remaining Superpower. With our ground military currently devastated and almost defeated in Iraq, our Air Force & naval air power are the last remaining legs of our military might. A stinging rebuke in the Persian Gulf via Sunburn missile will shatter the world's perception of us, revealing our military as a paper tiger, and our economy will vanish overnight. Likewise, the sinking of 3 aircraft carriers will either force a humiliated America to embrace navel-gazing isolationism, or perversely make Americans so militaristically aggressive that we go on a rampage of unilateralist war to prove once again our will and means to fight. Neither solution is an appealing one.

Congress must act NOW to stop Bush's saber-rattling, they must act BEFORE Bush concocts a bullshit excuse to declare war on Iran, and they must decisively act to PREVENT this war at any cost. Otherwise, we can kiss America as we know it GOODBYE FOREVER.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Dick Cheney, Omnipotent God-King

The Office of the Vice President is refusing to cooperate with a government directory which lists government employees. Federal agencies have to comply by listing staffers in the "Plum Book" directory, but Dick Cheney’s office claimed an exemption for itself, arguing that the “Vice Presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch.”

In other words, employees of the three branches of the federal government have to give staff lists for the Plum Book, but the Office of the Vice President apparently believes it’s not part any of the three branches. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, it’s one of those horrifying arguments that makes me worry about the integrity of our constitutional system.

And now it turns out that Cheney has extended his Crazy-Ass Theory of Vice-Presidential God-King Power:

An important legal ruling is pending over Vice President Cheney’s refusal to disclose statistics on document classification and declassification activity. The Information Security Oversight Office, which is responsible for the policy and oversight of the government’s security classification system, has asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to direct Cheney’s office to disclose these statistics.

Cheney’s office provided the information until 2002 but then stopped doing so, J. William Leonard, the director of ISOO, told U.S. News. At issue is whether the office of the vice president is an executive branch entity when it comes to supporting the activities of the president and the vice president. The reporting requirements for disclosing classification and declassification activity fall under a presidential executive order.

“Basically the definition says that any entity of the executive branch that comes into possession of classified information is covered by the reporting requirements,” says Leonard. “I have my understanding of what the executive order requires, and I’m going to the attorney general to ascertain if my reading of the executive order is correct.”

However, Megan McGinn, Cheney’s deputy press secretary, says the vice president’s office is exempt.

“This matter has been thoroughly reviewed,” McGinn told U.S. News, “and it has been determined that reporting requirements do not apply to the office of the vice president, which has both legislative and executive functions.”
Y'know, back in 2000 Bush ran for President on the theory that it was okay that he was a moron because if elected, he'd surround himself with great people who could do the job.

Now, six long, failed years later, we see that far from surrounding himself with competence, he hired Dick Cheney and a bunch of Dick's pals (like Rumsfeld!). Now we see the results: the Vice-President has set himself apart as some kind of Fourth branch of the American government. It’s legislative, it’s executive, it’s accountable to no one... it’s the Super Branch that over-rides all others.

Dick Cheney is our God-King.

In this particular case, the executive branch is required to disclose statistics on document classification and declassification activity to the Information Security Oversight Office. It’s about accountability and oversight, two words that seem to send shivers down Cheney’s spine. The OVP’s creative constitutional interpretation leads it to a convenient conclusion, keeping secret their efforts to keep things secret. Or, more accurately, how much stuff they keep secret.

I used to think that the idea of Dick Cheney being one pretzel-choking away from having his finger on the nuclear button was scary. What's scarier is that now we desperately NEED a pretzel-choking in order to force Cheney out into the open on his scary extra-legal bullshit. If he was PRESIDENT instead of Secret President, he wouldn't be able to get away with ANY of the bullshit that he's been getting away with (30% job approvals, for example).

God, Please, just ONE pretzel.

American-On-British Accident Video


ITV's report on the "Friendly" Fire incident, including the audiotape of the pilot's conversation. This pilot's neighbor really takes "Support Our Troops" to a whole new level, doesn't he? Small wonder that British support for this stupid war has dwindled to almost 0% with idiots like this popping off on British TV about how we saved England during WWII, how they're no help to us now, and other stupidity.

For the last time, the BRITISH saved Europe during WWII by refusing to give in during the Blitz, standing up while Hitler destroyed his air force smashing it against the RAF's stern defense. The RUSSIANS saved Europe by bleeding, starving and freezing Hitler's ground military to a pale shadow of what it was before the Eastern Front. America helped with all of that, but the idea that somehow "Europe" forever owes America for "saving their ass" in the 1940s massively overstates the case. We stayed out of that war for as long as possible, and when we did finally wade in, it wasn't out of any sense of do-gooderism, it was because the Japanese had attacked us. We entered World War II after the countries of Europe had already been at war for YEARS, and we entered that war for the same reason we've entered any other: to secure natural resources and hegemony for ourselves. That our entry happened to coincide with the needs of the British was a nice benefit, not a primary motivation.

If the roles in this killing were reversed (British troops accidentally shooting down an American plane), this guy and his neighbors would all be howling for blood. When Americans kill British or Canadian troops, though, it's deny, cover-up, and rationalize afterwards. Can warfare ever be made Zero Defect? No, but hiding and covering up for mistakes only makes it impossible for other soldiers to learn from the mistakes of those who screwed up, and compounds a possibly legitimate error with a deliberate scheme to lie. Which is worse, an accident, or lying about an accident after the fact to avoid punishment?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Videotape Emerges of U.S. Pilots Killing British Soldier

We're not sorry!

Once more, our allies in the War on Terror have learned a hard lesson about being in the same war zone as trigger-happy American troops. This incident happened FOUR YEARS AGO, and the US Military has been fighting an investigation that entire time. That's disgusting. Support our troops? Maybe, but it's certainly hard to do so knowing that the Pentagon is covering up blatant fuckups like this... it makes one wonder how much other stuff they're also covering up. What's especially sinister here is that we're ONLY hearing about this incident because the outraged British Military has been fighting the Pentagon to get this evidence for a coroner's inquest. How many hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of times has this happened to Iraqi civilians without us hearing about it? I'm betting a lot.

Video of U.S. 'Friendly Fire' Revealed
Associated Press | February 06, 2007

LONDON - A U.S. pilot was heard saying "we're in jail, dude" in radio traffic during an incident in which friendly fire killed a British soldier in Iraq four years ago, The Sun newspaper reported Tuesday.

The British Broadcasting Corp. also played excerpts which it said were taken from the recording.

The United States has refused to release a video and voice recording to a coroner's inquest into the death Lance Cpl. Matty Hull on March 28, 2003.

Two U.S. A-10 jets allegedly opened fire on his tank, which was part of five-vehicle convoy engaged in combat outside of Basra. Four others were injured, including the convoy's leader, Capt. Alexander MacEwen.

The inquest was adjourned last week to give Britain's Ministry of Defense more time to try to win the disclosure of the U.S. material.

The transcript printed in The Sun records the alleged exchange between the pilots after they realize their mistake:

Pilot 1: "I'm going to be sick."

Pilot 2: "Ah f---."

Pilot 1: "Did you hear?"

Pilot 2: "Yeah, this sucks."

Pilot 1: "We're in jail, dude."
Naaah, you're not going to jail, dude! You're getting a medal and a promotion and a coverup!

This same type of thing happened in Afghanistan back in 2003 when some US Pilots shot up Canadian troops, and one of the reasons was that the Air Force had been keeping their pilots awake for days on end using amphetamines. When is the U.S. Air Force going to realize that popping their pilots full of "Nazi Speed" is NOT a good idea?

We put transportation company employees in jail here in America for giving their truckers amphetamines so they can drive longer... why isn't the Pentagon held to the same principle?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Our Helicopters Are Falling...

On the 4th of February, the Pentagon admitted that they have been lying about the cause of 4 helicopter crashes in Iraq...

US: Four Copter Losses Due to Ground Fire
By Sameer N. Yacoub
The Associated Press
Sunday 04 February 2007

Baghdad, Iraq - The four U.S. helicopters that have crashed in Iraq since Jan. 20 were apparently shot down, the chief American military spokesman said Sunday - the first time the U.S. command has publicly acknowledged that the aircraft were lost to enemy fire.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell told reporters that the investigations into the crashes of three Army and one private helicopters are incomplete but "it does appear they were all the result of some kind of Iraqi ground fire that did bring those helicopters down."

"There's been an ongoing effort since we've been here to target our helicopters," Caldwell said. "Based on what we have seen, we're already making adjustments in our tactics and techniques and procedures as to how we employ our helicopters."
Fantastic, thanks for admitting that you've been lying to the American People and the Press about this. Totally makes us what to trust you when you tell us that it's IRAN who's funding the "insurgents" shooting down our helicopters, doesn't it?

Oh... but WHY would Iran bother? I mean, the insurgency is mostly Sunni Iraqis who are opposed to Iran's influence. Not only that, but Bush has allied the United States with the Shiite Dawa party whose clear intention is to ethnically cleanse Iraq of the Sunni minority, and that's entirely in Iran's self-interest. So why would Iran arm their enemies with sophisticated ground-to-air missiles?

Oh, but it DOES make sense for the Administration to tell us that IRAN is attacking us because they're trying to fake a reason for us to attack Iran, just like they did for attacking Saddam/Iraq.

But, Shhhhh, Don't Ask Questions about who's REALLY funding the insurgency because the answer turns out to be Bandar Bush & his rich Saudi Arabian pals!
Saudis reportedly funding Iraqi Sunni insurgents
12/8/2006

CAIRO (AP) — Private Saudi citizens are giving millions of dollars to Sunni insurgents in Iraq and much of the money is used to buy weapons, including shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, according to key Iraqi officials and others familiar with the flow of cash.

Saudi government officials deny that any money from their country is being sent to Iraqis fighting the government and the U.S.-led coalition.

But the U.S. Iraq Study Group report said Saudis are a source of funding for Sunni Arab insurgents. Several truck drivers interviewed by The Associated Press described carrying boxes of cash from Saudi Arabia into Iraq, money they said was headed for insurgents.

Two high-ranking Iraqi officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity, told the AP most of the Saudi money comes from private donations, called zaqat, collected for Islamic causes and charities.

In one recent case, an Iraqi official said $25 million in Saudi money went to a top Iraqi Sunni cleric and was used to buy weapons, including Strela, a Russian shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile. The missiles were purchased from someone in Romania, apparently through the black market, he said.

Overall, the Iraqi officials said, money has been pouring into Iraq from oil-rich Saudi Arabia, a Sunni bastion, since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq toppled the Sunni-controlled regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Saudi officials vehemently deny their country is a major source of financial support for the insurgents.
Ahhhh... now we see why Bush hated the Iraq Study Group so very much... they had the nerve to put his buddy Bandar in the mix! Typical of Bush to protect his family's multiple benefactors in the House of Saud above and beyond his loyalty to America, the Military and our ostensible mission in Iraq.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Even More Domestic Surveillance!

Not content to eavesdrop on your phone calls, read your mail, snoop through your bank records, dig around in your credit report, spy on anti-war authors & protest groups, attempt to turn telephone & cable installers into domestic spies, and all of the other bullshit that Bush has put in place across America, now we find out that the FBI isspying wholesale on America's internet use.

The FBI appears to have adopted an invasive Internet surveillance technique that collects far more data on innocent Americans than previously has been disclosed.

Instead of recording only what a particular suspect is doing, agents conducting investigations appear to be assembling the activities of thousands of Internet users at a time into massive databases, according to current and former officials. That database can subsequently be queried for names, e-mail addresses or keywords.

Such a technique is broader and potentially more intrusive than the FBI's Carnivore surveillance system, later renamed DCS1000. It raises concerns similar to those stirred by widespread Internet monitoring that the National Security Agency is said to have done, according to documents that have surfaced in one federal lawsuit, and may stretch the bounds of what's legally permissible.

Call it the vacuum-cleaner approach. It's employed when police have obtained a court order and an Internet service provider can't "isolate the particular person or IP address" because of technical constraints, says Paul Ohm, a former trial attorney at the Justice Department's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. (An Internet Protocol address is a series of digits that can identify an individual computer.)

That kind of full-pipe surveillance can record all Internet traffic, including Web browsing--or, optionally, only certain subsets such as all e-mail messages flowing through the network. Interception typically takes place inside an Internet provider's network at the junction point of a router or network switch.

"What they're doing is even worse than Carnivore," said Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who attended the Stanford event. "What they're doing is intercepting everyone and then choosing their targets."

When the FBI announced two years ago it had abandoned Carnivore, news reports said that the bureau would increasingly rely on Internet providers to conduct the surveillance and reimburse them for costs. While Carnivore was the subject of congressional scrutiny and outside audits, the FBI's current Internet eavesdropping techniques have received little attention.

Carnivore apparently did not perform full-pipe recording. A technical report (PDF: "Independent Technical Review of the Carnivore System") from December 2000 prepared for the Justice Department said that Carnivore "accumulates no data other than that which passes its filters" and that it saves packets "for later analysis only after they are positively linked by the filter settings to a target."
It's entirely clear that Bush hates and fears America's freedoms. For proof, one need only compare the resources put into snooping into our private lives to the resources spent on, oh, say, x-raying all packages which go onto airplanes (i.e. not a dime... for $50, any Al Qaeda Terrorist can ship a package on a commercial airliner and it won't be x-rayed, even though he's not getting on board).

We used to have a word for people who waste millions of dollars spying on their own citizens: Fascist Dictators.

One Senator Grows A Spine

Naturally, the moment after I post saying "When is Congress going to stand up to this idiot warmonger?" I run across this article in the New York Times which is an interview with new Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). In it, Rockefeller "sharply criticized the Bush administration's increasingly combative stance toward Iran, saying that White House efforts to portray it as a growing threat are uncomfortably reminiscent of rhetoric about Iraq before the American invasion of 2003." Rockefeller said the White House "was building a case against Tehran even as U.S. intelligence agencies still know little about either Iran's internal dynamics or its intentions in the Middle East."

The Times also quotes the senator as saying, "To be quite honest, I'm a little concerned that it's Iraq again. [...] This whole concept of moving against Iran is bizarre."

Welcome to the Party, Senator. Now let's see how many of your brethren you can bring with you.

Rockefeller said he believed President Bush was getting poor advice from advisers who argue that an uncompromising stance toward the regime in Tehran will serve U.S. interests. "I don't think that policymakers in this administration particularly understand Iran," he said.

The comments of Rockefeller reflect the mounting concerns being voiced by other influential Democrats, including the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, about the Bush administration's approach to Iran. The Democrats have warned that the administration is moving toward a confrontation with Iran when the United States has neither the military resources nor the support among U.S. allies and members of Congress to carry out such a move.

As one of only a handful of lawmakers with access to the most classified intelligence about the threat from Tehran, Rockefeller's views carry particular weight. He has also historically been more tempered in his criticism of the White House on national security issues than some of his Democratic colleagues.

Rockefeller was biting in his criticism of how Bush has dealt with the threat of Islamic radicalism since the Sept. 11 attacks, saying he believed that the campaign against international terrorism was "still a mystery" to the president. "I don't think he understands the world," Rockefeller said. "I don't think he's particularly curious about the world. I don't think he reads like he says he does."
I sure hope that Rockefeller and his fellow Democrats aren't going to let Bush start another war. Trouble is, I don't know how they can stop him short of pre-emptive impeachment of both Bush AND his Vice President, and that will NEVER happen.

Pentagon Gins Up War Machine

For the last few years, I've been telling people that Iraq was NOT the end zone for the Bush Administration. If you read their Right-Wing Think Tank reports that they write to one another, if you peruse the Project For A New American Century's webpage where they talked about the Middle East, if you pay attention to troop movements in and around the Middle East, it's always been quite clear that Bush's endgame was Iran. Why? Because he and his neoconservative nutjob advisors live in the Fantasy World, as opposed to the Real World... just like in Iraq, Bush's Brains have convinced themselves that the people of Iran will greet our troops with open arms, if only we kill their mullahs and clerics first.

He's wrong, of course, but that hasn't stopped him. Now we hear that JUST LIKE BEFORE IRAQ, Bush has set up his own special "intelligence" group inside the Pentagon, devoted to finding the "evidence" to "justify" an attack on Iran. Additionally worrisome is the fact that NO ONE from this administration will admit that the President needs the authority of Congress to go to war. Even more worrisome is that Bush has recently diverted massive naval air resources into the gulf off Iran's coast, almost BEGGING for an incident he can blow out of proportion and use as an excuse for war. Finally, let's remember that Alberto Gonzales says that Article II of the Constitution plus the 2001 Congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iraq means that Bush has special Presidential Superpowers to fight any war he likes.

The only conclusion one can draw is that we're headed to War against Iran.

Current military and former intelligence officials remain concerned about a US-led strike on Iran, despite the recent appearance of diplomacy on the part of the US State Department and the offer of an incentives package to Iran.

Officials point to new developments, such as a recent meeting in Rome between an Iranian arms dealer and controversial neoconservative Michael Ledeen and the March creation of the Iranian directorate inside the Pentagon, as examples of recent events similar to the lead up with war in Iraq.

[..]Lt. Col. Barry E. Venable, a spokesman for the Pentagon, confirmed the creation of the directorate for Iran in both a phone conversation and an email message.

"As the State Department stated in early March (Daily Press Brief, Mar. 3), the U.S. Government is organizing itself better to address what Secretary Rice called ‘one of the great challenges for the United States, a strategic challenge for the United States and for those who desire peace and freedom,'" Venable wrote.
Not content simply to lie and invade Iraq, Bush has now put in place all of the steps to invade Iran, or, at the very least, to bomb them back into the Stone Age. But if we thought we had problems occupying Iraq, let's take a look at what we're facing in Iran:

IRAQ:
defeated militarily in 1991
never able to properly re-arm because of sanctions
no air force
demoralized conscript army who mostly surrendered
3 distinct tribal groups, Shiite & Sunni Muslim
population: almost 27,000,000
size: 168,754 sq. miles//437,072 sq km (about that of California)

IRAN:
continuously re-arming since end of 1988 Iran-Iraq war
strong air forces
army of dedicated fanatics
2 intermingled tribal groups, both Shiite Muslim
population: 68,700,000
size: 636,296 sq. miles//1.648 million sq km (slightly larger than Alaska)

So, in other words, Bush is about to attack a country almost 4x as large as Iraq with a population two and a half times the size of Iraq's and a military 1000x as strong as Iraq's was.

Where's he planning to get the troops? He doesn't have enough to lock down Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time. If he does this, there's only one place they can come from: a draft.

When is Congress going to stand up to this idiot warmonger?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

That Booming Economy

The only positive thing this President has done that Republicans can ever point to is our "great economy." They prattle on and on about the economic boom. Point out that it's a boom only for the Wealthy and that the Middle Class and Poor are getting hosed and they say it's a lie, the Economy is great for everyone.

Well, we can put that bullshit spin to rest now...

…the savings rate for all of 2006 was a negative 1 percent, meaning that not only did people spend all the money they earned but they also dipped into savings or increased borrowing to finance purchases. The 2006 figure was lower than a negative 0.4 percent in 2005 and was the poorest showing since a negative 1.5 percent savings rate in 1933 during the Great Depression.
Yup. Great Economy you've got there. People spending 101% of what they make. Exactly how long is that sustainable for? Idiots.

Quick! Don't pay attention! There are Terrorist Toys in Boston!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Far Too Little, Far Too Late

And now, in "Fox To Guard Henhouse" news, we have this doozy:

Army Probes War Contractor Fraud
By John Heilprin
The Associated Press
Saturday 27 January 2007

From high-dollar fraud to conspiracy to bribery and bid rigging, Army investigators have opened up to 50 criminal probes involving battlefield contractors in the war in Iraq and the U.S. fight against terrorism, The Associated Press has learned.
Really? 50? $750 Billion in a pointless, never-ending, waste-filled war and they've uncovered a whopping 50 prosecutions? Wow, how DOES the Pentagon do it? It's like living in a town with Matlock AND Jessica from Murder She Wrote.
Senior contracting officials, government employees, residents of other countries and, in some cases, U.S. military personnel have been implicated in millions of dollars of fraud allegations.
But... our troops... must blindly support all troops... militarized population conditioned to support all troops, does not compute... does not compute... Oh, what's that? A "Few Bad Apples?" Oh, okay, then.
"All of these involve operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait," Chris Grey, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, confirmed Saturday to the AP. "CID agents will pursue leads and the truth wherever it may take us," Grey said. "We take this very seriously."
Really? Even into the Vice President's office and Halliburton's corporate offices in the Cayman Islands? Who's fooling whom, here? Maybe the AP laps up your bullshit, but no one else is.
Battlefield contractors have been implicated in allegations of fraud and abuse since the war in Iraq began in spring 2003. A special inspector general office that focused solely on reconstruction spending in Iraq developed cases that led to four criminal convictions.
Really? $18,000,000,000 in reconstruction funds TOTALLY WASTED and all you could find was four fucking cases? WOW! Move over C.S.I., the crack financial forensics team of the Pentagon is on the case. Maybe the fact that the electrical grid doesn't work, the phones don't work, the bridges are all still bombed out, the sewage system barely works and the hospitals all lie in ruins should have tipped the Pentagon's investigators off that a FUCKING LOT of Contractors and major Republican-connected firms took $18,000,000,000 from America's taxpayers and built nothing in return? Fuck you, this is clearly a weak attempt to head off Congressional Investigation, and it ain't gonna work. I, for one, cannot WAIT to watch Henry Waxman crawl right up the Pentagon's ass and shake free documentation on all of the people involved with this debacle and where, exactly, their political contributions went.
The problems stem in part from the Pentagon's struggle to get a handle on the unprecedented number of contractors now helping run the nation's wars. Contractors are used in battle zones to do nearly everything but fight. They run cafeterias and laundries for troops, move supplies, run communication systems and repair weapons systems.
Problems created by none other than Vice President Dick Cheney, when he was back in the Bush Sr. White House and recommended that all non-combat aspects of war be outsourced to private companies who supposedly could do the job cheaper and faster and better. Cheney then left public "service" to run the largest of these new military outsourcing contractors. So yeah, first off, I'm unimpressed by the idea that the Pentagon is "getting a handle on the unprecedented number of contractors now helping run the nation's wars" because they eagerly aided and abetted this change.

Also, I love how the article avoids talking about the OTHER set of major contractors in Iraq: the Private Military Contractors who are taking US tax dollars in return for riding roughshod over the country's civilians, thereby making Iraqis hate us all the more. And where do these $5000/week mercenaries come from? Oh, the US Military trains them at the cost of millions of dollars, then loses them to PMC's the second their committments are finished... a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars. First, you've paid a fortune to train these mercenaries, then you pay 100x their old military salaries to do the same job. Where's the "savings" in that?
Special agents from the Army's major procurement fraud unit recently were dispatched to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, where they are "working closely and sharing information with other law enforcement agencies in the region," Grey said.

"Given the billions of dollars in contract dollars that have been and are being spent, it is our experience that our agents will detect millions of dollars in fraud before we are done," Grey said. "And just as likely, we will be instrumental in bringing back to the U.S. government millions of dollars in recoveries."
Wow, bringing back MILLIONS of dollars. Of course, at $18,000,000,000 that means that even if the Pentagon's investigators return $180 Million dollars, it's still only ONE FUCKING PERCENT of the money which was squandered on Iraq's "rebuilding." And that itself is a drop in the bucket compared to the eventual $1-2 TRILLION dollar cost of this war.
One case involves an Army chief warrant officer accused of taking a $50,000 bribe to steer a contract for paper products and plastic flatware away from a government contractor and to a Kuwaiti company, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday in federal court at Rock Island, Ill.

Prosecutors say the officer took the bribe while at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, while he was the Army's food service adviser for Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, according to the indictment. The officer is also accused of trying to smuggle $40,000 in undeclared cash into the United States on a December 2005 flight from Kuwait to Dover, Del.
Sooo... it wasn't so much that investigators caught this guy and investigated him, it's more that he got caught at the border with $40G in cash and then the Pentagon figured it out. Oh, yeah, my confidence IS high.
Other cases involve a government officer manipulating a contract in exchange for large bribes, a contractor making false claims against the government and an official accepting gratuities. The cases range in type, seriousness and complexity and involve contractors both inside and outside the United States.
Other such cases include a former President earning billions off the war that his son started, a sitting Vice President falsifying evidence for this war in order to drive the price of his corporation's stock up by 700% since he entered office, and a stubborn dry drunk of a president unwilling to change course or even admit he's made any mistakes because he's absolutely certain that his benefactors in the Saudi Royal Family will handsomely reward him with lavish "Speaking Fees" for speeches in return for his having demolished Iraq's ability to pump oil. These cases, however, will NEVER be investigated, because to do so would be to expose our country's leadership as a group of Armaments Manufacturers who are simply imitating their great-grandparent's activities in World War One.
The Pentagon has viewed outsourcing a wide variety of military tasks as much more efficient, leaving troops trained in combat to the business of war.

But the Government Accountability Office reported in December that the military has been losing millions of dollars because it cannot monitor industry workers in far-flung locations. The Defense Department's inability to manage contractors effectively has hurt military operations and unit morale and cost the Pentagon money, the GAO said.

Some 150,000 contractors have been supporting the Army in Southwest Asia, which includes Iraq. That compares with 9,200 contractors in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Commanders are often unsure how many contractors use their bases and require food, housing and protection, according to the report. One Army official said the service estimates losing about $43 million each year on free meals provided to contractors who also get a food allowance.

The new Democratic Congress plans to ramp up oversight of the billions of dollars being spent in Iraq, including dollars awarded to contractors. Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has said he plans to target contractor abuse.
The best news of the entire article, but frankly, it's a bit like closing the barn door after the horses have all run away.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Bush Was Never Elected

People have asked me why I didn't blog Bush's recent State of the Union. Well, to be honest, it's because I have a limited taste for lies. Not that I didn't watch the grand and boring speech, I did, but my feeling is that his lies are now so fucking obvious on the face of them that no one needed me to sit and analyze his bullshit. It's a waste of my time.

Ah, but more importantly, it's because I'm not willing to expend the energy writing about the speech of a man who has never been legitimately elected President.

See, in 2000, the Supreme Court could have ordered that every ballot in Florida be counted. Instead they pulled off a judicial coup and stole the election for Bush. Later recounts of every Florida ballot proved that if all counties had been recounted, Bush would have lost Florida by a few thousand votes.

Then, in 2004, we saw the election-rigging machine at it again in Ohio. Kenneth Blackwell, scumbag extraordinaire did everything he could to help Diebold steal the election. Robert Kennedy exposed much of this in the pages of Rolling Stone. Bush stole his re-election and the mainstream Corporate Media promptly ignored it.

Now they're ignoring THIS story, a story far more interesting than anything that President Citizen Bush might have to say...

Ohio Election Staff Convicted in Recount Rig

By M.R. Kropkop
The Associated Press

Wednesday 24 January 2007

Cleveland - Two election workers were convicted Wednesday of rigging a recount of the 2004 presidential election to avoid a more thorough review in Ohio's most populous county.

Jacqueline Maiden, elections coordinator of the Cuyahoga County Elections Board, and ballot manager Kathleen Dreamer each were convicted of a felony count of negligent misconduct of an elections employee. They also were convicted of one misdemeanor count each of failure of elections employees to perform their duty.

Prosecutors accused Maiden and Dreamer of secretly reviewing preselected ballots before a public recount on Dec. 16, 2004. They worked behind closed doors for three days to pick ballots they knew would not cause discrepancies when checked by hand, prosecutors said.

Defense attorney Roger Synenberg has said the workers were following procedures as they understood them.

Ohio gave President Bush the electoral votes he needed to defeat Democratic Sen. John Kerry in the close election and hold on to the White House in 2004.

Special prosecutor Kevin Baxter did not claim the workers' actions affected the outcome of the election - Kerry gained 17 votes and Bush lost six in the county's recount.

Maiden and Dreamer, who still work for the elections board, face a possible sentence of six to 18 months for the felony conviction. Sentencing is on Feb. 26.

A message left for Elections Board Director Michael Vu was not immediately returned Wednesday. The board released a statement that said its goal is to restore confidence in the county's election progress and pursue reforms in addition to those made since 2004.
I think it's amusing that the Elections Board Director's words are taken as truth in this article, especially considering that all three of the people charged in this case were placed on ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE and their legal fees paid for BY that same Elections Board, who are clearly trying to cover up their ignominious record as election thieves.

This isn't some isolated incident... writers Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have a great account of how widespread and egregious the election fraud in Ohio was this last election.
But Cleveland, which usually gives Democrats an extremely heavy margin, was crucial to Bush's alleged victory of roughly 118,000 votes out of 5.5 million counted. Some 600,000 votes were cast or counted in Cuyahoga County. But official turnout and vote counts varied wildly and improbably from precinct to precinct. Overall the county reported about a 60% turnout. But several predominantly black precincts, where voters went more than 80% for Kerry, reported turnouts of 30% or less. In one ward, only a 7% turnout was reported, while surrounding precincts were nearly ten times as high. Independent studies indicate Kerry thousands of votes in Cuyahoga County that rightfully should have been counted in his column.

In the Cuyahoga case, the poll workers are charged with circumventing state recount laws that require a random sampling of at least three percent of the votes cast in a given precinct, to be recounted by hand and by machine. The prosecution charges that the workers instead hand picked sample precincts to recount that they knew did not have questionable results. Once they were able to match those recounts with official results, they could then do the rest of the recount by machine, in effect rendering the entire process meaningless. "This was a very hush operation," said prosecutor Baxter.

Similar allegations have been made in other counties. Indeed, such illegal non-random recounting procedures appear to have been common throughout the state, carried out by board of election employees with the tacit consent of Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell. Blackwell was officially charged with administering the election that gave Bush a second term while simultaneously serving as the Ohio co-chair of his Bush's re-election campaign. Blackwell has just been overwhelmingly defeated in his own attempt to become governor of Ohio.

Defense attorney Roger Synenberg, who represents Dreamer, told the jury that the recount was an open process, and that his client and the others "were just doing it the way they were always doing it."
It's now very clear that this country is being led by an illegitimate fraud who calls himself The Decider. Why should Congress defer to anything he wants at this point?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Google: The Enemy Within

Google is making moves to becomeTHE ONLY internet.

That's it. Got nothing to say about it except "uhm, scary?"

Oh, and all these cable and phone companies who hate Net Neutrality so much had better look 3 years down the road and realize that without Net Neutrality, their stupid, slow, lumbering asses are out of business as Google sits down at the table and eats their lunch and they're unable to do Jack Fuggin Shit about it.

Iraqi Government No Show Jobs

Here's a neat dispatch out of Baghdad that amounts to a progress report on the Iraq parliament, where lawmakers are still finding it difficult to convene because, most of the time, there is no quorum. The New York Times reports that "nearly every session since November has been adjourned" because most lawmakers don't show up for work even though they receive salaries and benefits worth about $120,000, which seems like a ridiculously large sum for Iraq.

I'm used to hearing about "No Show" jobs on mob-controlled construction jobs. I'm not used to hearing about them in Government, although the Republican-controlled 109th Congress did its damnedest to not show up and worked as little as possible (Tuesday through Thursday only, out of the building by 6pm). It looks like someone in Iraq was paying attention.

Hey... maybe Bush is exporting American-style Democracy to Iraq, after all!