GW Bush

Bush is World"s #1 Terrorist

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Year the Chickenhawks Will Go Home to Roost

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005
2006: The Year the Chickenhawks Will Go Home to Roost

...a message from Cindy Sheehan

Since hot, hot Camp Casey in August, some amazing grass roots actions have taken place all over the country. People are starting to speak up and Congress has begun to take action against the criminal and neo-Fascist regime that tried to take over America.

From Camp Casey to Katrina to use of chemical weaponry and extraordinary rendition to illegally spying on American citizens without due process, Bushco has miserably failed our country and the world. We as Americans said "enough is enough." We sacrificed a lot when we showed up in DC and other cities around the country in the hundreds of thousands to protest against and show that we withdraw any consent to be governed by murderous thugs. We started to peacefully, but forcefully resist the notion that this government has any right to govern us when they have betrayed their offices and their sacred trusts as "defenders" of the Constitution so horribly.

This was also the year that we began to hold such Republicans in Democratic clothing like: Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Joe Biden, and Diane Feinstein (list is by no means all inclusive) accountable for their support of what George is doing in Iraq. When we as Democrats elect our leaders we expect them to reject and loudly repudiate the murderous and corrupt policies of this administration -- not support and defend them.

There are Camp Caseys in front of Hillary's and Chuck Schumer's offices in Long Island every Friday, as well as one in front of Diane Feinstein's Los Angeles office on Fridays. There has been a Camp Casey in front of Kay Bailey Hutchinson's office in Dallas since August. Several protestors have been arrested in Dallas exercising their First Amendment rights. We need to let these warmongers, as well as the Republican warmongers, know that we mean business when we say "bring them home now." Set up Camp Caseys in front of your Senator's or Congress person's office if they support George in his wars of aggression.

Gold Star Families for Peace ( is planning many activities for the first part of 2006. I would like to give you all a heads-up on them, so you can make your plans accordingly to support us and to join us if at all possible.

On January 31st, we will be in Washington, DC for the State of the Union address when George gets in front of Congress and the world and lies through his teeth about how great everything is going in Iraq and here at home. His idiotic policies have ruined Iraq and New Orleans and made the world a more dangerous place...allowing that terrorist attacks have tripled world wide since he decided to "fight them over there." He also may be laying the ground work for further acts of needless aggression against Syria and Iraq. GSFP and representatives from other peace organizations and refugees from New Orleans will be gathering in DC to give the "Real State of the Union." Check our website for place and time.

For the Love of God, Can't you Make Him Stop? Recently, it was revealed that George only interacts with four people: Laura, Condi, Karen Hughes and his Mom. His Mom, the Ice Queen who didn't want her "pretty mind" burdened with the images of flag draped coffins coming home, lives in Houston. On President's Day, (Feb. 20) we will be demonstrating in front of her house to implore her to forget about the obscene profits that her family and their friends are making off of this occupation and to beg her to finally do the right thing and make her son stop this insane war OF terror against the world. George and Dick are defiling the highest offices of the world and they need to resign. On President's Day, when we have the day off, we need to demonstrate against the ones who are illegitimately in power, anyway. If you can't make it to Houston, organize your own President's Day protest.

The Camp Casey Peace Foundation will hold its first annual Peace Festival and Concert on April 4, 2006. April 4th is the day Casey and Martin Luther King, Jr. were killed. We want to turn it into a true day for celebrating peace. The Camp Casey Peace Foundation will be awarding the Casey Sheehan Peace Prize, a cash prize, to a young peace activist every year. We want to foster the growth of solving problems non-violently and young people are the ones who get killed in the gray haired old men's wars. We are working on an exciting event and we will announce more details as the event draws closer.

Camp Casey Easter edition: We will be heading back to our leased land in Crawford April 11th to Easter, which is April 16th. Easter is a time of renewal and hopeful promises. Casey was killed on Palm Sunday and his body was returned to us in the cargo section of a United Airlines flight on Holy Saturday and we buried him two days after Easter. Last Easter Season was so painful to us. This Easter we will again be demonstrating in front of the man's home who is responsible for such pain and abject heartache in the world. But, we will be there with a renewed sense of hope that the Chickenhawks will be sent out to pasture this year. Like Michael Moore, I want to be a fly on the wall when Bush and company are hauled out of the White House in handcuffs. Impeachment is not necessary for people who never were elected...eviction is what is needed. If you can't join us in Crawford, set up your own Camp Casey near you.

In 2005, we learned that we have the power. We learned that we can't rely on the propaganda media or the empty promises of most of our elected leadership. We learned that we need to be the change that we desire to see.

We learned that one person can and does make a difference.

We cannot relax in 2006. We cannot slip back into the evil of apathy and complacency that the neocons rejoice in. We need to keep pounding, working, and fighting. We need to support organizations like Gold Star Families for Peace, Veterans for Peace (, Code Pink ( and Iraq Veterans Against the War (, or the Peace organization of your choice so we can continue our struggle for peace with justice. We need to support true American patriots like John Conyers who is calling for an investigation and censure for the lies that have cost us so much of our national human treasure.

2006 will be a great year for the people of our country. I know it.

It won't be easy, but we will prevail and the struggle will be worth it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The New Madness of King George

The New Madness of King George

By Robert Parry
December 19, 2005

On the Sunday before Christmas, a fidgety George W. Bush interrupted regular programming on U.S. networks to deliver an address to the nation that painted the Iraq War and the War on Terror in the same black-and-white colors he has always favored.

Despite the media's conventional wisdom about Bush’s new “realism” on Iraq, the old canards were still there – Saddam Hussein choosing war by rejecting United Nations weapons inspectors; blurred distinctions between Iraqi insurgents and non-Iraqi terrorists; intimations that Bush’s critics are “partisan” while he embodies the national interest.

Plus, there was the same old stark choice between success and failure. “There are only two options before our country – victory or defeat,” Bush declared, brushing aside the political and military ambiguities of the Iraq War and the War on Terror.

But Bush’s speech and his curious hand gestures as he sat behind a desk in the Oval Office suggested a twitchiness over his apparent realization that the nation increasingly doubts his leadership.

Indeed, it appears the American people finally have begun to understand the costs in blood, money and freedoms that have resulted from letting the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks become a justification for transforming the United States into a modern-day empire led by an autocrat who claims the untrammeled right to strike at his perceived enemies abroad and crack down on his opponents at home.


A day earlier, an angrier-looking Bush used his weekly radio address to denounce as “irresponsible” senators who resorted to the filibuster to demand more civil-liberties protections in a revised version of the Patriot Act.

Bush also lashed out at press disclosures of his three-year-old decision to circumvent the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by personally approving warrantless electronic eavesdropping on international communications by people inside the United States.

“As a result (of the disclosure), our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk,” Bush said. “Revealing classified information is illegal.”

Bush’s outrage might seem strange to some observers since he has refused to punish his deputy chief of staff Karl Rove for leaking the classified identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame after her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused Bush of twisting intelligence to build his case for invading Iraq in 2003.

But Bush apparently has judged that he, as president, and his close advisers can decide which laws they wish to obey and when, while simultaneously condemning those outside their circle of power for violating the same laws.

This attitude follows Bush’s view that the “commander in chief” clause of the U.S. Constitution grants him virtually unlimited powers as a “war president” as long as the War on Terror lasts, a concept of executive authority that recalls the days of absolute authority claimed by Medieval kings and queens.

Already, Bush has asserted that his “commander in chief” powers allow him to arrest citizens and hold them indefinitely without charges; to authorize physical abuse of prisoners; to invade other countries without the necessity of congressional approval; and to ignore international law, including the U.N. Charter and other treaty obligations.

As the New York Times reported on Dec. 16 and Bush confirmed on Dec. 17, he also is claiming – as his constitutional right – the power to wiretap Americans without court review or the presentation of evidence to any impartial body.

When Bush is challenged on these authorities, he asserts that he is following the law, although it is never clear which law or whether anyone other than his appointed lawyers have advised him on the scope of his power.

(Conservative legal scholars may have to stretch their notion of the “original intent” of the Founders to explain how the writers of the U.S. Constitution in 1787 decided to give a future president the authority to use spy satellites to intercept phone calls and other electronic communications.)

It’s also not clear what evidence exists to support Bush’s charge that disclosure of his wiretapping decision damages the national security and endangers U.S. citizens.

Under the FISA law dating back to the 1970s, electronic eavesdropping has been permitted inside the United States against foreign agents, including anyone collaborating with an international terrorist group. The law only requires a warrant from a secret court, which rarely rejects an administration request.

Presumably, al-Qaeda terrorists inside the United States were aware that their communications were vulnerable to intercepts, explaining why the Sept. 11 attackers were careful to avoid telephonic contacts abroad. But the terrorists would have no way to know whether electronic eavesdropping might be done with or without a warrant, under FISA or Bush’s order.

Yet, Bush’s complaint that disclosure of his personal wiretapping authority endangers national security presupposes the terrorists knew that their phone calls would somehow be immune from a FISA court warrant but susceptible to Bush’s wiretap order.

Since that assumption makes no sense, one can only conclude that Bush threw in the accusation about endangering national security to impugn the patriotism of his critics and rev up his base, much as he did during the run-up to invading Iraq when skeptics were shouted down as traitors and liars. [See, for instance,’s “Politics of Preemption.”]

Questionable Targets

Bush’s assertion of his unilateral authority to wiretap anyone he wishes also raises questions about whether some of his eavesdropping is aimed at political opponents or journalists, rather than terrorists.

While Bush claims his wiretaps were vital to the national security, they came at a time when the FISA court was approving record numbers of warrants for secret surveillance. According to FISA’s annual report for 2004, there were a record 1,758 applications for spying authorization that year and none was denied by the special court.

The administration’s explanation for why additional secret wiretaps were needed is that Bush’s order saves time when a quick wiretap is required, such as when a foreign terrorist is captured and his phone records are seized.

But the FISA court can clear warrants in a few hours – or Bush could exercise emergency powers under the law to conduct wiretaps for 72 hours before obtaining approval from the court. That emergency provision was inserted in the law to give presidents leeway when the threat was a surprise nuclear attack by the Soviet Union with the potential of wiping out nearly the entire U.S. population.

Even during the Cold War, the FISA provisions were acceptable to Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. But now, with a much less severe threat from al-Qaeda terrorists, George W. Bush has decided that the law must be waived at his discretion, bypassing the court on hundreds and possibly thousands of surveillance orders.

That suggests other motives may exist for some of these wiretaps, such as the possibility that some intercepted conversations would be rejected by even the rubber-stamping FISA court, like requests to spy on activists, politicians or journalists.

The Bush administration, for instance, has accused the Arab news network al-Jazeera of collaborating with al-Qaeda and U.S. news executives are known to communicate with al-Jazeera over access to its exclusive video. Would these phone calls and e-mails be covered by Bush’s extraordinary wiretap authority?

Bush’s right-wing allies also have labeled some American journalists, such as Seymour Hersh, traitors for writing articles about the War on Terror that reveal secret operations that Bush has wanted to keep hidden. Plus, there may be U.S. politicians or activists communicating with Islamic leaders overseas.

While the full range of Bush’s intercepts is not known, the administration’s use of National Security Agency intercepts was an issue earlier this year, when it was disclosed that John Bolton, Bush’s nominee to be United Nations ambassador, had requested names of Americans that had been excised from NSA transcripts for privacy reasons.

Senate Democrats demanded that documents be turned over on 10 cases in which Bolton used his position as under secretary of state for arms control to obtain the names. The White House refused to provide the information and Bush evaded the need for Senate confirmation of Bolton’s ambassadorship by making him a “recess appointment.”

Hand Gestures

As for Sunday’s prime-time Iraq War speech, Bush broke with the reassuring tradition of a president sitting behind the Oval Office desk with hands folded. Instead, Bush took to waving his arms as he delivered the speech.

“Grim-faced, yet with a trace of anxiety in his eyes, Bush delivered the remarks seated rigidly at a desk, making a variety of hand gestures,” observed Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales. [Washington Post, Dec. 19, 2005]

Some of Bush’s strange body language may be explained by the fact that even he must realize that his assertions include a number of falsehoods, such as his routine deception that Saddam Hussein defied U.N. demands on destroying his weapons of mass destruction and on letting in U.N. weapons inspectors.

“It is true that [Hussein] systematically concealed those [WMD] programs, and blocked the work of U.N. weapons inspectors,” Bush told the nation. “He was given an ultimatum – and he made his choice for war.”

But it is not true that Hussein blocked the work of U.N. weapons inspectors. In fact, he acquiesced to a U.N. ultimatum and let them back into Iraq in November 2002. Chief inspector Hans Blix said his team was finally given free rein to examine suspected WMD sites, but Bush forced the inspectors to leave so the invasion could proceed.

As it turned out, Hussein was telling the truth when he said there were no WMD caches left. After the invasion, Bush’s own team of inspectors concluded that Iraq’s WMD stockpiles had been destroyed by earlier U.N. inspections and by U.S. bombing during the Clinton administration.

Yet, beginning a few months after the U.S. invasion – as it became clear there was no WMD and as U.S. casualties mounted – Bush began rewriting history, claiming that Hussein had not let the U.N. inspectors in, thus forcing Bush to invade. This lie presumably made Bush appear more reasonable.

On July 14, 2003, Bush said about Hussein, “we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power.”

In the following months, Bush repeated this claim in slightly varied forms.

On Jan. 27, 2004, Bush said, “We went to the United Nations, of course, and got an overwhelming resolution – 1441 – unanimous resolution, that said to Saddam, you must disclose and destroy your weapons programs, which obviously meant the world felt he had such programs. He chose defiance. It was his choice to make, and he did not let us in.”

Eventually, this false history became part of Bush’s regular litany about the war. Despite the fact that it was an obvious lie – the U.S. news media had witnessed the work of the U.N. inspectors inside Iraq – Bush was rarely challenged about his historical revisionism. [For details, see “President Bush, With the Candlestick…”]

Terrorists or Insurgents

Similarly, Bush continues to blur the distinctions between the Sunni-led Iraqi insurgency that has often used roadside bombs to attack American troops and the relatively small number of non-Iraqi terrorists who have exploded bombs aimed at civilian targets.

Bush has employed the rhetorical device of using insurgent and terrorist synonymously, much as he and Vice President Dick Cheney used juxtaposition to convince millions of Americans that the Iraqi government was somehow responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.

In his Dec. 18 speech, for instance, Bush said, “the terrorists will continue to have the coward’s power to plant roadside bombs and recruit suicide bombers,” making no distinction between the tactics of the insurgents and the terrorists.

The danger from this sleight of hand is that it blocks consideration of possible resolution of the Iraq War. Many military analysts believe the only realistic route toward a reasonably successful policy in Iraq is to address the political and economic concerns of Iraq’s Sunni minority – who want a U.S. withdrawal, more political clout and a share of the nation’s oil revenues – while isolating the relatively small number of foreign jihadists.

Though Bush has made some concessions to this reality in recent speeches, he chose to return to his broad-brush rhetoric in the national address. Again, it was a case of good versus evil, victory or surrender, his way or the highway.

“Defeatism may have its partisan uses,” Bush said of his critics, “but it is not justified by the facts.”

Bush also resorted to a favorite tactic of ascribing ridiculous notions to his critics. “If you think the terrorists would become peaceful if only America would stop provoking them, then it might make sense to leave them alone,” Bush said.

The president then returned to his long-time claim that Islamic extremists are motivated by their hatred of America’s freedom.

“The terrorists do not merely object to American actions in Iraq and elsewhere, they object to our deepest values and our way of life,” Bush said. “And if we were not fighting them in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Southeast Asia, and in other places, the terrorists would not be peaceful citizens, they would be on the offense, and headed our way.”

Again, Bush was reprising rhetoric that exaggerates or misstates the enemy’s goals and capabilities as a way to box in the U.S. political debate and shut the door on reasonable alternative strategies.

Bush continues to discuss al-Qaeda as if it is a powerful international force on par with Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia, when many analysts see it as a fringe organization that was driven out of most Islamic countries, almost to the ends of the earth – or in this case to the mountains of Afghanistan.

Without doubt, al-Qaeda-inspired terrorists exploited a letdown in U.S. security in 2001 to conduct an extraordinary attack on New York and Washington, but a realistic assessment of its actual clout is important in calibrating a response.

If al-Qaeda is actually a marginal organization that can be isolated even more by the West adopting a respectful approach to the Muslim world, then Bush’s approach of invading Arab countries – and curtailing American liberties – makes no sense, unless Bush’s real motives are something else: say, controlling Middle East resources and transforming the United States into a modern one-party state with him or his allies in permanent control.

The analysis that follows from Bush’s assertion of unlimited presidential powers and his deceptive explanations to the American people about Iraq suggests two alternative theories. Either Bush is increasingly unstable, incapable of discerning reality from his own propaganda, or he is concealing his real agenda with misleading arguments.

Put differently, either the United States is experiencing a kind of modern “madness of King George” – like what happened when King George III became unstable in the years after losing the Colonies – or the American people are living under a cunning Machiavelli with a calculated method to his apparent madness.

Either way, the prospects are troubling for American democracy – and it may not be clear which of the alternative scenarios is more worrisome.

Bush's abuse of power deserves impeachment

Bush's abuse of power deserves impeachment
With latest outrages, Bush puts impeachment talk into the mainstream

Recklessly and audaciously, George W. Bush is driving the nation whose laws he swore to uphold into a constitutional crisis. He has claimed the powers of a medieval monarch and defied the other two branches of government to deny him. Eventually, despite his party's monopoly of power, he may force the nation to choose between his continuing degradation of basic national values and the terrible remedy of impeachment.

Until Mr. Bush openly proclaimed as commander in chief that he can brush aside the law, cries for impeachment were heard only on the political fringe, although most Americans have long since realized that he misled America into war. Much as he is disliked and disdained by liberals, even they have shown little enthusiasm for impeachment. In addition to the obvious obstacle of a Republican-controlled Congress, there appeared to be no firm proof of an offense that justified such action. To mention the word was to be dismissed -- even by people who believe that this President may well have committed "high crimes and misdemeanors."

The partisan peepshow of the Clinton impeachment did not leave much enthusiasm for that process. Nor would any thoughtful citizen want to risk abusing it in the manner made infamous by Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay.

For responsible citizens, the reluctance to seek the ultimate sanction against the President is especially strong in a time of peril. He and his supporters could argue, quite plausibly, that to impeach him now would be dangerous and destabilizing. His pet pundits and flacks would deploy all the defensive arguments they scorned in 1999.

He might well be able to rally the public to his side again by denouncing "politicians in Washington" for "undermining national security."

As political strategy and as public policy, the impeachment of Mr. Bush is an unappealing prospect. (Besides, if he could be thrown out somehow, who would want Dick Cheney to succeed him?) And yet, the actions and attitudes of this President raise the question of how else we can preserve the bedrock principles of a democratic republic.

Dark suspicions would be aroused by Mr. Bush's insistence on his supposed wartime exemption from the law even if he had greater credibility than he now possesses. Hearing a leader with his diminished reputation for honesty announcing such claims, as he seeks to regain authority by promoting fear, it is impossible not to imagine the worst.

The President says that if he is to protect the nation from our enemies, he must be able to order the surveillance of American citizens without seeking the authority of a court. He has repeatedly violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which provides very few safeguards of traditional civil liberties. He disdains a law that permits him to order the immediate electronic monitoring of anyone, requiring only that his officers seek a warrant within 72 hours from a secret court that approves those requests in almost every case and never hears an opposing brief. He claims that even those minimal restraints are too onerous.

Why would the President instruct the Attorney General not to seek warrants from the FISA court, as the statute requires? What did he and his aides fear from that court's conservative judges -- appointed by the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist -- who have routinely approved all but a tiny percentage of the warrants presented to them by this and other administrations over the past quarter-century? Which wiretaps did he expect those pliable judges to reject?

The Bush doctrine of a President above the law and the Constitution has a dishonorable tradition that dates back to his father's idol, Richard Nixon. More recently, its pedigree derives from memoranda prepared by the same White House lawyers who have told Mr. Bush that he can tear up international treaties and American statutes that prohibit torture and protect against detention without trial.

What has provoked fresh discussion of impeachment is the President's admission that he has ignored the law's requirements and that he intends to keep doing so. The impeccably conservative legal scholar and former Reagan aide Bruce Fein explained the deep implications of the President's arrogance:

"If President Bush is totally unapologetic and says, 'I continue to maintain that as a wartime President I can do anything I want -- I don't need to consult any other branches,' that is an impeachable offense. It's more dangerous than Clinton's lying under oath, because it jeopardizes our democratic dispensation and civil liberties for the ages. It would set a precedent that... would lie around like a loaded gun, able to be used indefinitely for any future occupant."

There are politicians in both parties who know that Mr. Bush's trespasses cannot be allowed to stand. Only a bipartisan coalition can restrain and, if necessary, remove him. It is to be hoped that he steps back before such a struggle becomes inevitable. Joe Conason writes for the New York Observer and, and is the author of Big Lies: The Right- Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Raising the Issue of Impeachment

Raising the Issue of Impeachment

Submitted by davidswanson on Tue, 2005-12-20 16:05. Impeachment

Raising the Issue of Impeachment
By John Nichols, The Nation

As President Bush and his aides scramble to explain new revelations regarding Bush's authorization of spying on the international telephone calls and emails of Americans, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, has begun a process that could lead to the censure, and perhaps the impeachment, of the president and vice president.

U.S. Representative John Conyers, the Michigan Democrat who was a critical player in the Watergate and Iran-Contra investigations into presidential wrongdoing, has introduced a package of resolutions that would censure President Bush and Vice President Cheney and create a select committee to investigate the Administration's possible crimes and make recommendations regarding grounds for impeachment.

The Conyers resolutions add a significant new twist to the debate about how to hold the administration to account. Members of Congress have become increasingly aggressive in the criticism of the White House, with U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia, saiying Monday, "Americans have been stunned at the recent news of the abuses of power by an overzealous President. It has become apparent that this Administration has engaged in a consistent and unrelenting pattern of abuse against our Country's law-abiding citizens, and against our Constitution." Even Republicans, including Senate Judiciary Committee chair Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, are talking for the first time about mounting potentially serious investigations into abuses of power by the president.

But Conyers is seeking to do much more than schedule a committee hearing, or even launch a formal inquiry. He is proposing that the Congress use all of the powers that are available to it to hold the president and vice president to account – up to and including the power to impeach the holders of the nation's most powerful positions and to remove them from office.

The first of the three resolutions introduced by Conyers, H.Res.635, asks that the Congress establish a select committee to investigate whether members of the administration made moves to invade Iraq before receiving congressional authorization, manipulated pre-war intelligence, encouraged the use of torture in Iraq and elsewhere, and used their positions to retaliate against critics of the war.

The select committee would be asked to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

The second resolution, H.Res.636, asks that the Congress to censure the president "for failing to respond to requests for information concerning allegations that he and others in his Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq, misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for the war, countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of persons in Iraq, and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of his Administration, for failing to adequately account for specific misstatements he made regarding the war, and for failing to comply with Executive Order 12958." (Executive Order 12958, issued in 1995 by former President Bill Clinton, seeks to promote openness in government by prescribing a uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information.)

A third resolution, H.Res.637, would censure Cheney for a similar set of complaints.

"The people of this country are waking up to the severity of the lies, crimes, and abuses of power committed by this president and his administration," says Jon Bonifaz, a co-founder of the coalition, an alliance of more than100 grassroots groups that has detailed Bush administration wrongdoing and encouraged a Congressional response. Bonifaz, an attorney and the author of the book, Warrior King: The Case for Impeaching George Bush (Nation Books), argues that, "Now is the time to return to the rule of law and to hold those who have defied the Constitution accountable for their actions."

Bonifaz is right. But it is unlikely that the effort to censure Bush and Cheney, let alone impeach them, will get far without significant organizing around the country. After all, the House is controlled by allies of the president who have displayed no inclination to hold him to account. Indeed, only a few Democrats, such as Conyers, have taken seriously the Constitutional issues raised by the administration's misdeeds.

Members of Congress in both parties will need to feel a lot of heat if these improtant measures are going to get much traction in this Congress.

The grassroots group Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), which has had a good deal of success organizing activists who want the Democrats to take a more aggressive stance in challenging the administration, will play a critical role in the effort to mobilize support for the Conyers resolutions, as part of a new Censure Bush Coalition campaign. (The campaign's website can be found at

PDA director Tim Carpenter says his group plans to "mobilize and organize a broad base coalition that will demand action from Congress to investigate the lies of the Bush administration and their conduct related to the war in Iraq."

Getting this Congress to get serious about maintaining checks and balances on the Bush administration will be a daunting task. But the recent revelations regarding domestic spying will make it easier. There are a lot of Americans who share the view of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, that Bush and Cheney have exceeded their authority. As Feingold says of Bush, "He is the president, not a king."

It was the bitter experience of dealing with King George III led the founders of this country to write a Constitution that empowers Congress to hold presidents and vice accountable for their actions.

It is this power that John Conyers, the senior member of the House committee charged with maintaining the system of checks and balances established by those founders, is now asking the Congress to employ in the service of the nation that Constitution still governs.

An expanded paperback edition of John Nichols' biography of Vice President Dick Cheney, The Rise and Rise of Richard B. Cheney: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Most Powerful Vice President in American History (The New Press: 2005), is available nationwide at independent bookstores and at The book features an exclusive interview with Joe Wilson and a chapter on the vice president's use and misuse of intelligence. Publisher's Weekly describes the book as "a Fahrenheit 9/11 for Cheney" and Esquire magazine says it "reveals the inner Cheney."


It's Good to be King -- Bush and FISA

December 19, 2005

Commentary -- It's Good to be the King -- Bush and FISA
This is going to come as quite a surprise, but apparently President Bush has flagrantly violated the law of the land. Before your eyes glaze over and your brain starts to turn off, let me assure you, you actually haven’t heard this one before. This one is a little bit different.

In 2002, Bush signed an Executive Order allowing the National Security Agency to wiretap certain people in the United States who are communicating with someone abroad without obtaining a warrant from a court. Since then, he’s renewed this authorization 36 times, and presumably thousands of people in America have been spied on in this manner.

Now, the NSA is already allowed, in a relatively unrestricted way, to obtain intercepts of electronic communications from everybody else in the world; it is also allowed to do this to Americans, in accordance with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). It’s just that the Justice Department needs to go to a special court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, in order to get a warrant. To get such a warrant, Justice need not meet convention probable cause standards that would be required in criminal cases. The FISC approves the vast majority of requests. If the situation is an emergency, the wiretap can be kept in place for up to 72 hours before getting a warrant. Indeed, it’s difficult if not impossible to make the case that this executive order is necessary in order to thwart potential terrorist attacks.

There are two ways in which this latest revelation is somewhat different from previous ones.

First, in their open, gung-ho defense of this decision, the administration is somewhere between Nixon’s constant assertion of extreme executive privilege and resurrecting the divine right of kings. Not only can they give no specific justification of the need for indefinitely extended warrantless searches, they can give no real argument about how Bush can simply order a federal agency to commit acts in gross violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and thus of U.S. statute. There are some vague claims about how Congress’s authorization of the use of force on September 14, 2001 is the basis for this authority, but it’s rather hard to read into that document a statement that Bush has the right to set aside any existing legislation by executive decree in the fight against terrorism.

So, in fact, the essence of the argument is that the president, by virtue of his office, can decide whether he believes a law passed by Congress is unconstitutional or not and if it is he can direct agents of the government to violate it. This is equivalent to saying that the president is above the law and is empowered to rule by decree. As Russ Feingold suggested, we have to decide whether we have a president or a king.

Second, Bush has openly admitted to doing this. The administration lied and as much as it could about Iraq’s WMD, but has never admitted anything about it.

When somebody asked me recently whether, in the light of Bush’s increasing unpopularity and increasing perceptions of his dishonesty, there was any chance of impeachment, my answer was no. Crucial to making the case against Nixon for Watergate was his practice of taping Oval Office conversations. The release of those tapes, plus the unexplained 18-minute absence in one of them, was necessary to build the impeachment consensus.

In the case of the much smaller crimes for which Bill Clinton was impeached, again, there was direct physical evidence and he was forced to admit to them.

In Bush’s case, while inferentially there’s been not just a smoking gun but a whole smoking arsenal, there’s been nothing quite as concrete – too much has remained a matter of interpretation, possible to explain or spin away. That’s starting to change.

At the same time, it’s been revealed that the Pentagon frequently spies on antiwar groups; also, under guise of passing an anti-torture bill, Congress has just effectively approved use of testimony obtained by torture to help keep detainees locked up. The outlines of a police state are starting to emerge.

So far, opposition to this particular aspect of what Bush likes to call the advance of freedom has aroused little public opposition, if only because the people directly affected are marginalized groups that no one cares about. That could change if we see the list of people the NSA has spied on.

Impeach Bush!!!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Truth About Bush

December 18, 2005

Major Bush and Neocons Accomplishments:

* Killing of 2000+ American soldiers
* Killing of 100,000 Iraq civilians
* Killing of 6000+ Americans in New Orleans
* Half Trillion dollars Debt
* 100 Million dollars negative trade balance
* Most Corrupted Goverment ever
* Tax Cuts to the richest 1% Americans
* Destruction of Social Programs for the poor amd middle class
* Government for the Corporations
* Careless for the Environment
* Nazi stilus goverment conduct and policies
* Spying on Civilians
* Torture of Prisonners
* Rigging of Elections

In 2006 and 2008 Itr is time to send this corrupt GOP goverment home (and to jail!)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Rumsfeld's Epiphany

November 29th, 2005 6:18 pm
Rumsfeld: Don't Call Them 'Insurgents'

By Robert Burns / Associated Press

WASHINGTON - More than 2 1/2 years into the Iraq war, Donald H. Rumsfeld has decided the enemy are not insurgents.

"This is a group of people who don't merit the word `insurgency,' I think," Rumsfeld said Tuesday at a Pentagon news conference. He said the thought had come to him suddenly over the Thanksgiving weekend.

"It was an epiphany."

Rumsfeld's comments drew chuckles but had a serious side.

"I think that you can have a legitimate insurgency in a country that has popular support and has a cohesiveness and has a legitimate gripe," he said. "These people don't have a legitimate gripe." Still, he acknowledged that his point may not be supported by the standard definition of `insurgent.' He promised to look it up.

Webster's New World College Dictionary defines the term "insurgent" as "rising up against established authority."

Even Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who stood beside Rumsfeld at the news conference, found it impossible to describe the fighting in Iraq without twice using the term `insurgent.'

After the word slipped out the first time, Pace looked sheepishly at Rumsfeld and quipped apologetically, "I have to use the word `insurgent' because I can't think of a better word right now."

Without missing a beat, Rumsfeld replied with a wide grin: "Enemies of the legitimate Iraqi government. How's that?"

At another point in their news conference, Rumsfeld and Pace had an unusual exchange in which Rumsfeld corrected his senior military adviser, only to have Pace gently insist that it was the defense secretary who was wrong.

A reporter asked Pace what U.S. commanders in Iraq are supposed to do if they find Iraqi forces abusing prisoners. Pace replied that if inhumane treatment is observed it is a service member's duty to stop it.

"I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it — it's to report it," Rumsfeld said, turning to Pace.

Replied the general: "If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Murderer John Negroponte in Iraq: Death Squds now operating in Iraq

The Times January 10, 2005

El Salvador-style 'death squads' to be deployed by US against Iraq militants
From Roland Watson in Washington

John Negroponte was in Honduras when American money was used to train Contras to fight Nicaragua's Sandinista regime. (AL-RAYA/AP)

THE Pentagon is considering forming hit squads of Kurdish and Shia fighters to target leaders of the Iraqi insurgency in a strategic shift borrowed from the American struggle against left-wing guerrillas in Central America 20 years ago.

Under the so-called “El Salvador option”, Iraqi and American forces would be sent to kill or kidnap insurgency leaders, even in Syria, where some are thought to shelter.

The plans are reported in this week’s Newsweek magazine as part of Pentagon efforts to get US forces in Iraq on to the front foot against an enemy that is apparently getting the better of them.

Iyad Allawi, the interim Iraqi Prime Minister, was said to be one of the most vigorous supporters of the plan.

The Pentagon declined to comment, but one insider told Newsweek: “What everyone agrees is that we can’t just go on as we are. We have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents. Right now, we are playing defence. And we are losing.”

Hit squads would be controversial and would probably be kept secret.

The experience of the so-called “death squads” in Central America remains raw for many even now and helped to sully the image of the United States in the region.

Then, the Reagan Administration funded and trained teams of nationalist forces to neutralise Salvadorean rebel leaders and sympathisers. Supporters credit the policy with calming the insurgency, although it left a bitter legacy and stirred anti-American sentiment.

John Negroponte, the US Ambassador in Baghdad, had a front-row seat at the time as Ambassador to Honduras from 1981-85.

Death squads were a brutal feature of Latin American politics of the time. In Argentina in the 1970s and Guatemala in the 1980s, soldiers wore uniform by day but used unmarked cars by night to kidnap and kill those hostile to the regime or their suspected sympathisers.

In the early 1980s President Reagan’s Administration funded and helped to train Nicaraguan contras based in Honduras with the aim of ousting Nicaragua’s Sandinista regime. The Contras were equipped using money from illegal American arms sales to Iran, a scandal that could have toppled Mr Reagan.

It was in El Salvador that the United States trained small units of local forces specifically to target rebels.

The thrust of the Pentagon proposal in Iraq, according to Newsweek, is to follow that model and direct US special forces teams to advise, support and train Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shia militiamen to target leaders of the Sunni insurgency.

It is unclear whether the main aim of the missions would be to assassinate the rebels or kidnap them and take them away for interrogation. Any mission in Syria would probably be undertaken by US Special Forces.

Nor is it clear who would take responsibility for such a programme — the Pentagon or the Central Intelligence Agency. Such covert operations have traditionally been run by the CIA at arm’s length from the administration in power, giving US officials the ability to deny knowledge of it.

The Pentagon refused to be drawn on the issue yesterday. “We don’t discuss specific future operations or specific tactics,” a spokeswoman said.

This week Gary Luck, a retired four-star general, will arrive in Iraq to review American policy in the country, looking particularly at the recruitment and training of Iraqi forces. The key to Washington’s exit strategy is the ability of Iraqi forces to take over security roles. The general has been asked by Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, to deliver an “ open-ended” review of how US aims can better be met.

His visit comes after two weeks of increased violence in Iraq in which scores of Iraqis and more than a dozen Americans have been killed in the run-up to the country’s elections.

Journalist Killed after investigating US-backed death squads in Iraq

Journalist killed after investigating US-backed death squads in Iraq
By James Cogan
1 July 2005

Use this version to print | Send this link by email | Email the author

On June 24, Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi special correspondent for the news agency Knight Ridder, was killed by a single bullet to the head as he approached a checkpoint that had been thrown up near his home in western Baghdad by US and Iraqi troops. It is believed that the shot was fired by an American sniper. According to eyewitnesses, no warning shots were fired.

The US military has announced it is conducting an investigation into Salihee’s killing. Knight Ridder has already declared, however, that “there’s no reason to think that the shooting had anything to do with his reporting work”. In fact, his last assignment gives reason to suspect that it was.

Over the past month, Salihee had been gathering evidence that US-backed Iraqi forces have been carrying out extra-judicial killings of alleged members and supporters of the anti-occupation resistance. His investigation followed a feature in the New York Times magazine in May, detailing how the US military had modeled the Iraqi interior ministry police commandos, known as the Wolf Brigade, on the death squads unleashed in the 1980s to crush the left-wing insurgency in El Salvador.

The Wolf Brigade was recruited by US operatives and the US-installed interim government headed by Iyad Allawi during 2004. A majority of its officers and personnel served in Saddam Hussein’s special forces and Republican Guard—veterans of killings, torture and repression. The unit has been used against the resistance in rebellious cities such as Mosul and Samarra, and, over the past six weeks, has played a prominent role in the massive crackdown ordered by the Iraqi government in Baghdad codenamed “Operation Lightning”.

On June 27, Knight Ridder published the results of its inquiry in an article jointly written by Salihee and correspondent Tom Lasseter. The journalists “found more than 30 examples in less than a week” of corpses turning up in Baghdad morgues of people who were last seen being detained by the police commandos.

The men, according to the central Baghdad morgue director Faik Baqr, had “been killed in a methodical fashion”. The article reported: “Their hands had been tied or handcuffed behind their backs, their eyes were blindfolded and they appeared to have been tortured. In most cases, the dead men looked as if they’d been whipped with a cord, subjected to electric shocks or beaten with a blunt object and shot to death, often with single bullets to their heads.”

A grocer in west Baghdad told Salihee that he had been detained by police with a man named Anwar Jassim on May 13. “When we were in detention, they put blindfolds and handcuffs on us. On the second day the soldiers were saying ‘He’s dead’. Later we found out it was Anwar.” According to the medical reports at the Yarmuk morgue where police dumped his body, Jassim had a “bullet wound in the back of his head and cuts and bruises on his abdomen, back and neck.”

Police commandos reportedly told the morgue director to leave the corpse “so that dogs could eat it, because he’s terrorist and he deserves it”.

In a second case, a brigadier-general in the Iraqi interior ministry related that his brother had been detained during a raid on May 14, in a working class Sunni suburb in Baghdad’s west. His body was found the next day bearing signs of torture. Witnesses told the general that the abductors “came in white police Toyota Land Cruisers, wore police commando uniforms, flak vests and helmets” and were armed with 9mm Glock pistols.

Glock sidearms are used by many US law enforcement agencies and have been supplied to Iraqi security forces by the US military.

The article also cited a third case. The body of Saadi Khalif was brought to Yarmuk morgue by police commandos several days after he was taken from his home by police on June 10. Saadi’s brother told Knight Ridder: “The doctor told us he was choked and tortured before they shot him. He looked like he had been dragged by a car.”

An article in the British Financial Times on June 29 provided further evidence of police commando atrocities. Mustafa Mohammed Ali, from the western Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib, told the newspaper he was detained by the Wolf Brigade on May 22, during the build-up to Operation Lightning. He alleged that he was held for 26 days.

The article reported: “He spent the first day in a barbed wire enclosure with hundreds of other detainees, without food, water or toilet facilities... On the fourth day, the interrogations began. Mr Ali says Wolf Brigade commandos attached electrical wires to his ear and his genitals, and generated a current with a hand-cranked military telephone.”

According to the figures given to the Financial Times, only 22 of the 474 people seized from their homes during the Wolf Brigade sweep in the Abu Ghraib area are still being held. Those released allege they suffered systematic abuse. “Mass detentions and indiscriminate torture seem to be the main tools deployed to crush an insurgency that could last ‘five, six, eight, 10, 12 years’ according to Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary,” the newspaper commented.

In light of the evidence gathered by Salihee, significant discrepancies in the official figures for Operation Lightning in Baghdad raise further concerns about the fate of detainees. In early June, the Iraqi government reported that 1,200 had been detained. Just days later on June 6, this was revised downward to just 887, with no explanation. Some of the deaths referred to in the Knight Ridder article coincide with this period.

Suspicions of wholesale killings

The revelations about the conduct of the Wolf Brigade lend credibility to the claims made by Max Fuller, in a feature headlined “For Iraq, ‘The Salvador Option’ Becomes Reality” and published by the Centre for Research on Globalisation.

Over the past nine months, a terrifying new development in Iraq has been the discovery of dozens of bodies dumped in rubbish heaps, rivers or abandoned buildings. In most cases, the people had suffered torture and mutilation before being killed by a single shot to the head. The US military has consistently reported that the victims were members of the Iraqi army or police. The media has universally reported the mass killings as the work of anti-occupation terrorists.

Fuller noted, however: “What is particularly striking is that many of those killings have taken place since the police commandos became operationally active and often correspond with areas where they have been deployed.”

In Mosul, for example, dozens of men were detained by the commandos last November, as part of a US-led operation to bring the city back under occupation control. Over the following weeks, more than 150 tortured and executed bodies were found. In Samarra, dozens of bodies appeared in nearby Lake Thartar in the wake of operations by the commandos in that city.

From February through to late April, more than 100 bodies were recovered from the Tigris River south of Baghdad—one of the most rebellious areas of the country. The Iraqi government initially claimed they were villagers who had been kidnapped by insurgents in the village of Maidan. This has since been discredited. The victims are from a range of towns and villages, including Kut in the north and Basra in the south. Police in the area told the San Francisco Chronicle that many of the dead had been “motorists passing through the area when stopped by masked men bearing Kalashnikov rifles at impromptu checkpoints”.

Other killings have been discovered in Baquaba and the Syrian border town of Qaim in the aftermath of counter-insurgency operations by US forces and their Iraqi allies. Fuller also noted the suspicions surrounding the assassination of well over 200 university academics, most of whom were opponents of the US occupation of Iraq.

Dozens of bodies have been found over the past two months in Baghdad. In May, the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS)—the main public Sunni organisation opposed to the occupation—directly accused the Wolf Brigade of having “arrested imams and the guardians of some mosques, tortured and killed them, and then got rid of their bodies in a garbage dump in Shaab district” of Baghdad. AMS secretary general Hareth al-Dhari declared at the time: “This is state terrorism by the Minister of the Interior.”

The very existence of the Wolf Brigade underscores the criminality of the US occupation and the utter fraud of the Bush administration claims to be bringing “liberation” and “democracy” to Iraq. Many of the commandos would have been involved in murder and torture on behalf of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The American military deliberately recruited them in order to make use of their experience in mass repression and has directly modeled their operations on those of right-wing death squads in Central America.

The main US advisor to the Wolf Brigade from the time of its formation until April 2005 was James Steele. Steele’s own biography, promoting him for the US lecture circuit, states that “he commanded the US military group in El Salvador during the height of the guerilla war” and “was credited with training and equipping what was acknowledged to be the best counter-terrorist force in the region”. In a 12-year campaign of murder and repression, the Salvadoran units, trained and advised by people like Steele, killed over 70,000 people.

In his speech on June 28, George Bush declared his administration was working with the Iraqi interior and defence ministries to “improve their capabilities to coordinate anti-terrorist operations” and “develop their command and control structures”. The evidence is beginning to emerge that this means paying and equipping former Baathist killers to terrorise, torture and murder Iraqis who are believed to have links to the popular resistance, which an unnamed US analyst estimated for the June 27 edition of Newsweek had “as many as 400,000 auxiliaries and support personnel”.

The killing of journalists seeking to document or expose allegations of state-organised murder has accompanied every dirty war against a civilian population. Since the US occupation of Iraq began, dozens of reporters, cameramen and other media workers have been killed by American-led forces in suspicious circumstances that were never independently investigated.

Two more Iraqi journalists have been killed in the days since Yasser Salihee’s death. On June 26, Maha Ibrahim, a news editor with a television station operated by the anti-occupation Iraqi Islamic Party, was shot dead when US troops opened fire on her car as she and her husband drove to work. Two days later, Ahmad Wail Bakri, a program director for Iraqi al-Sharqiya television was killed by American troops as he reportedly tried to drive around a traffic accident in Baghdad.

See Also:
Washington in crisis over opposition to Iraq war
[28 June 2005]
US imprisons Iraqi journalists without charges
[7 May 2005]
Iraq: Reporters Without Borders condemns US report on killing of journalists
[27 November 2004]

Oil Chiefs Met With Cheney Task Force

November 16th, 2005 1:35 pm
Document Says Oil Chiefs Met With Cheney Task Force

By Dana Milbank and Justin Blum / Washington Post

A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.

The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.

In a joint hearing last week of the Senate Energy and Commerce committees, the chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips said their firms did not participate in the 2001 task force. The president of Shell Oil said his company did not participate "to my knowledge," and the chief of BP America Inc. said he did not know.

Chevron was not named in the White House document, but the Government Accountability Office has found that Chevron was one of several companies that "gave detailed energy policy recommendations" to the task force. In addition, Cheney had a separate meeting with John Browne, BP's chief executive, according to a person familiar with the task force's work; that meeting is not noted in the document.

The task force's activities attracted complaints from environmentalists, who said they were shut out of the task force discussions while corporate interests were present. The meetings were held in secret and the White House refused to release a list of participants. The task force was made up primarily of Cabinet-level officials. Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club unsuccessfully sued to obtain the records.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who posed the question about the task force, said he will ask the Justice Department today to investigate. "The White House went to great lengths to keep these meetings secret, and now oil executives may be lying to Congress about their role in the Cheney task force," Lautenberg said.

Lea Anne McBride, a spokeswoman for Cheney, declined to comment on the document. She said that the courts have upheld "the constitutional right of the president and vice president to obtain information in confidentiality."

The executives were not under oath when they testified, so they are not vulnerable to charges of perjury; committee Democrats had protested the decision by Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) not to swear in the executives. But a person can be fined or imprisoned for up to five years for making "any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation" to Congress.

Alan Huffman, who was a Conoco manager until the 2002 merger with Phillips, confirmed meeting with the task force staff. "We met in the Executive Office Building, if I remember correctly," he said.

A spokesman for ConocoPhillips said the chief executive, James J. Mulva, had been unaware that Conoco officials met with task force staff when he testified at the hearing. The spokesman said that Mulva was chief executive of Phillips in 2001 before the merger and that nobody from Phillips met with the task force.

Exxon spokesman Russ Roberts said the company stood by chief executive Lee R. Raymond's statement in the hearing. In a brief phone interview, former Exxon vice president James Rouse, the official named in the White House document, denied the meeting took place. "That must be inaccurate and I don't have any comment beyond that," said Rouse, now retired.

Ronnie Chappell, a spokesman for BP, declined to comment on the task force meetings. Darci Sinclair, a spokeswoman for Shell, said she did not know whether Shell officials met with the task force, but they often meet members of the administration. Chevron said its executives did not meet with the task force but confirmed that it sent President Bush recommendations in a letter.

The person familiar with the task force's work, who requested anonymity out of concern about retribution, said the document was based on records kept by the Secret Service of people admitted to the White House complex. This person said most meetings were with Andrew Lundquist, the task force's executive director, and Cheney aide Karen Y. Knutson.

According to the White House document, Rouse met with task force staff members on Feb. 14, 2001. On March 21, they met with Archie Dunham, who was chairman of Conoco. On April 12, according to the document, task force staff members met with Conoco official Huffman and two officials from the U.S. Oil and Gas Association, Wayne Gibbens and Alby Modiano.

On April 17, task force staff members met with Royal Dutch/Shell Group's chairman, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Shell Oil chairman Steven Miller and two others. On March 22, staff members met with BP regional president Bob Malone, chief economist Peter Davies and company employees Graham Barr and Deb Beaubien.

Toward the end of the hearing, Lautenberg asked the five executives: "Did your company or any representatives of your companies participate in Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001?" When there was no response, Lautenberg added: "The meeting . . . "

"No," said Raymond.

"No," said Chevron Chairman David J. O'Reilly.

"We did not, no," Mulva said.

"To be honest, I don't know," said BP America chief executive Ross Pillari, who came to the job in August 2001. "I wasn't here then."

"But your company was here," Lautenberg replied.

"Yes," Pillari said.

Shell Oil president John Hofmeister, who has held his job since earlier this year, answered last. "Not to my knowledge," he said.

Research editor Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.

US Army Admits Use of White Phosphorous as Weapon

US Army Admits Use of White Phosphorus as Weapon
by Steven D
Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 02:48:58 PM PDT

(From the diaries. Let's see them deny this shit now -- kos)

That's right. Not from Al Jazheera, or Al Arabiya, but the US fucking Army, in their very own publication, from the (WARNING: pdf file) March edition of Field Artillery Magazine in an article entitled "The Fight for Fallujah":

"WP [i.e., white phosphorus rounds] proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."

* Steven D's diary :: ::

In other words the claim by the US Government that White Phosphorus was used only for illumination at Fallujah had been pre-emptively debunked by the Army. Indeed, the article goes on to make clear that soldiers would have liked to have saved more WP rounds to use for "lethal missions."

However, as Mark Kraft, an emailer to Eric Alterman's blog, Altercation, points out today, the Field Artillery Magazine article fails to inform its audience that

. . . there is no way you can use white phosphorus like that without forming a deadly chemical cloud that kills everything within a tenth of a mile in all directions from where it hits. Obviously, the effect of such deadly clouds weren't just psychological in nature.

Furthermore, (from a link provided by Mr. Kraft, thank you very much) testimony about the use of these "shake and bake" techniques of WP usage are detailed in an account by an embedded Journalist regarding the April 2004 attacks on Fallujah by the Marines:

Fighting from a distance

After pounding parts of the city for days, many Marines say the recent combat escalated into more than they had planned for, but not more than they could handle.

"It's a war," said Cpl. Nicholas Bogert, 22, of Morris, N.Y.

Bogert is a mortar team leader who directed his men to fire round after round of high explosives and white phosphorus charges into the city Friday and Saturday, never knowing what the targets were or what damage the resulting explosions caused.

"We had all this SASO (security and stabilization operations) training back home," he said. "And then this turns into a real goddamned war."

Just as his team started to eat a breakfast of packaged rations Saturday, Bogert got a fire mission over the radio.

"Stand by!" he yelled, sending Lance Cpls. Jonathan Alexander and Jonathan Millikin scrambling to their feet.

Shake 'n' bake

Joking and rousting each other like boys just seconds before, the men were instantly all business. With fellow Marines between them and their targets, a lot was at stake.

Bogert received coordinates of the target, plotted them on a map and called out the settings for the gun they call "Sarah Lee."

Millikin, 21, from Reno, Nev., and Alexander, 23, from Wetumpka, Ala., quickly made the adjustments. They are good at what they do.

"Gun up!" Millikin yelled when they finished a few seconds later, grabbing a white phosphorus round from a nearby ammo can and holding it over the tube.

"Fire!" Bogert yelled, as Millikin dropped it.

The boom kicked dust around the pit as they ran through the drill again and again, sending a mixture of burning white phosphorus and high explosives they call "shake 'n' bake" into a cluster of buildings where insurgents have been spotted all week.

They say they have never seen what they've hit, nor did they talk about it as they dusted off their breakfast and continued their hilarious routine of personal insults and name-calling.

So who you gonna believe? The US Department of Defense or the US Army and the US Marine Corps? Decisions, decisions . . .

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Staggeringly Impossible Results of Ohio's 05 Election...

The Staggeringly Impossible Results of Ohio's '05 Election...
...As Half of Ohio's Counties Fire Up Blackwell's New Diebold Electronic Diebold Voting Machines
Is this the Election that will finally break the camel's back?

With so much going on, we haven't had much time to report here on the extraordinary outcome of last Tuesday's election in Ohio where the crooked state that brung you...

With so much going on, we haven't had much time to report here on the extraordinary outcome of last Tuesday's election in Ohio where the crooked state that brung you -- by hook and by crook -- a second term for George W. Bush may have turned in results so staggeringly impossible, that perhaps even the Ohio Mainstream Corporate Media will have no choice but to look into it. And that's a good thing.

As usual, the Free Press' heroic Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are on the case. Their article on what happened on ballot issues 1 through 5 last week is A MUST READ for anybody who still gives the slightest damn about whatever democracy might be left in America.

We'll try to summarize here briefly. There were five initiatives on the ballot last week. Issue 1 was a controversial proposition for $2 billion in new state spending. The Christian Right was opposed (because some of the new funds might go to stem cell research), but otherwise, the Republican Governor Taft's Administration (he recently pleaded guilty to several counts of corruption) was pushing it hard alongside progressives in the state.

The Columbus Dispatch's pre-election polling, which Fritrakis and Wasserman describe as "uncannily accurate for decades", called the race correctly within 1% of the final result. The margin of error for the poll was +/- 2.5% with a 95% confidence interval. On Issue 1, the Dispatch poll was right on the money. They predicted 53% in favor, the final result was 54% in favor.

But then came Issues 2 through 5 put forward by -- a bi-partisan coalition pushing these four initiatives for Electoral Reform in the Buckeye State largely in response to their shameful '04 Election performance led by the extremely partisan Secretary of State (and Bush/Cheney '04 Co-Chair) J. Kenneth Blackwell.

On those four issues, which Blackwell and the Christian Right were against, the final results were impossibly different -- and we mean impossibly! -- from both the Dispatch's final polling before the election and all reasoned common-sense. Take a look:

ISSUE 1 ($2 Billion State Bond initiative)
PRE-POLLING: 53% Yes, 27% No, 20% Undecided
FINAL RESULT: 54% Yes, 45% No

ISSUE 2 (Allow easier absentee balloting)
PRE-POLLING: 59% Yes, 33% No, 9% Undecided
FINAL RESULT: 36% Yes, 63% No

ISSUE 3 (Revise campaign contribution limits)
PRE-POLLING: 61% Yes, 25% No, 14% Undecided
FINAL RESULT: 33% Yes, 66% No

ISSUE 4 (Ind. Comm. to draw Congressional Districts)
PRE-POLLING: 31% Yes, 45% No, 25% Undecided
FINAL RESULT: 30% Yes, 69% No

ISSUE 5 (Ind. Board instead of Sec. of State to oversee elections)
PRE-POLLING: 41% Yes, 43% No, 16% Undecided
FINAL RESULT: 29% Yes, 70% No

Now, you tell us...What could possibly explain such unheard of differences between the Dispatch's poll and the final results?

Now, we'll tell you...This was the year that Ohio, under the encouragement and mandates of Blackwell, rolled out new Electronic Touch-Screen Voting Machines in 44 of its 88 counties...41 of them employing the same Diebold Touch-Screen Machines that California's Republican Sec. of State decertified in this state when 20% of them failed this summer in the largest test of its kind ever held.

Those would be the very same Electronic Voting Machines which a recent GAO Report (still unmentioned by a single wire-service or mainstream American newspaper) confirmed to be easily hackable.

Will the absurdly skewed results from last Tuesday's Ohio Election finally light a fire under the media -- either nationally or just in Ohio alone -- to look into what the hell is going on here?! We remain hopeful...if not optimistic.

The Free Press article is a must read, as mentioned, but we'll share their closing thoughts here on the possible reasons for the wildly unexplained discrepancy between the final polling and the final results which, as they posit, are due to either a completely inexplicable breakdown of the Dispatch's historically accurate polling methods wildly beyond the margin-of-error for all initiatives except Issue 1...or...somebody hacked that vote count:

US used white phosphorous in Iraq

November 15th, 2005 10:51 pm
US used white phosphorus in Iraq


The Pentagon has confirmed that US troops used white phosphorus during last year's offensive in the northern Iraqi city of Falluja.

"It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants," spokesman Lt Col Barry Venable told the BBC - though not against civilians, he said.

The US earlier denied it had been used in Falluja at all.

Col Venable denied that the substance - which can cause burning of the flesh - constituted a banned chemical weapon.

Washington is not a signatory of an international treaty restricting the use of white phosphorus devices.

Col Venable said a statement by the US state department that white phosphorus had not been used was based on "poor information".

The BBC's defence correspondent Paul Wood says having to retract its denial has been a public relations disaster for the US military.


The US-led assault on Falluja - a stronghold of the Sunni insurgency west of Baghdad - displaced most of the city's 300,000 population and left many of its buildings destroyed.

Col Venable told the BBC's PM radio programme that the US army used white phosphorus incendiary munitions "primarily as obscurants, for smokescreens or target marking in some cases".

"However it is an incendiary weapon and may be used against enemy combatants."

And he said it had been used in Falluja, but it was "conventional munition", not a chemical weapon.

It is not "outlawed or illegal", Col Venable said.

"When you have enemy forces that are in covered positions that your high explosive artillery rounds are not having an impact on and you wish to get them out of those positions, one technique is to fire a white phosphorus round or rounds into the position because the combined effects of the fire and smoke - and in some case the terror brought about by the explosion on the ground - will drive them out of the holes so that you can kill them with high explosives," he said.

'Particularly nasty'

White phosphorus is highly flammable and ignites on contact with oxygen. If the substance hits someone's body, it will burn until deprived of oxygen., a defence website, says: "Phosphorus burns on the skin are deep and painful... These weapons are particularly nasty because white phosphorus continues to burn until it disappears... it could burn right down to the bone."

A spokesman at the UK Ministry of Defence said the use of white phosphorus was permitted in battle in cases where there were no civilians near the target area.

But Professor Paul Rodgers of the University of Bradford department of peace studies said white phosphorus could be considered a chemical weapon if deliberately aimed at civilians.

He told PM: "It is not counted under the chemical weapons convention in its normal use but, although it is a matter of legal niceties, it probably does fall into the category of chemical weapons if it is used for this kind of purpose directly against people."

When the Rai documentary revealing the use of white phosphorus in Iraq was broadcast on 8 November, it sparked fury among Italian anti-war protesters, who demonstrated outside the US embassy in Rome.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Dark Days ion the White House

October 28th, 2005 2:51 pm
Indictment Adds to White House's Woes

By Ron Fournier / Associated Press

These are dark days for the White House. And they could get darker.

Less than a year after winning re-election by a comfortable margin, President Bush's approval ratings are at the lowest since he took office in 2001 and he is being whipsawed this week by events, some of his own making.

_The U.S. death toll in Iraq hit 2,000 on Tuesday, a fresh reminder of the president's push to war over weapons of mass destruction that were never found.

_A special prosecutor took aim at White House officials in an investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's identity, a disclosure that may have been part of a campaign to discredit an Iraq war critic. The vice president's chief of staff was indicted on five felony counts Friday, although top aide Karl Rove escaped charges for now.

_An insurrection of the president's conservative political base forced the withdrawal of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers on Thursday.

_Consumer confidence dropped, home sales were down and the number of people who lost their jobs because of Hurricane Katrina climbed above the half-million mark.

"There are times when no matter what you do it seems to blow up in your face, whether it's self-inflicted or inflicted from the outside," said Democratic consultant Joe Lockhart, who was President Clinton's press secretary during the impeachment flap.

In the face of such grim news, Bush is likely to follow the examples of Clinton and other embattled presidents and make a public display of his work ethic.

"The American people expect me to do my job, and I'm going to," Bush said, shrugging off the "background noise" of the CIA leak investigation.

White House officials have said they expect anybody indicted to leave the staff.

On Iraq, the president has given a series of speeches defending his war policies. The approval of a new Iraqi constitution Oct. 15 is one of the few pieces of good news Bush had gotten this month.

The economy has been a baffling issue to Bush and his team. They have not figured out how to convince the public that the economy is doing as well as experts say. It's a hard sell when pension funds are going bankrupt, health care costs and gasoline prices are soaring and jobs are being shipped overseas.

That leaves the rift with conservatives. The White House hopes that Miers fixed that problem by withdrawing.

Bush blamed her demise on a dispute with the Senate over access to White House documents, but that wasn't half the problem. It was a family fight, an ugly one, between a conservative president and like-minded activists who consider themselves entitled to dictate his Supreme Court pick.

They helped him get elected twice. They wanted a tried-and-true conservative on the bench, and Miers didn't cut it.

With independent and Democratic voters abandoning him in droves, Bush couldn't afford to make conservatives angry.

"The base is his last refuge at this point," said Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin political science professor.

"He's facing some daunting challenges," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass. "The way that political leaders move when they are facing challenges is back to their base."

Massachusetts' junior senator, John Kerry, put a more cynical spin on the Miers' withdrawal. "Caught up in a wave of scandal and concerns about the war in Iraq, the president has allowed right-wing interest groups to decide the fate of his Supreme Court nominee rather than stand up to his ultraconservative base," he said.

Kerry would love to see Bush labeled a quick-to-yield politician. Part of the reason Kerry lost to Bush in the 2004 race was that voters said they knew where the president stood even when they disagreed with him — and that he rarely wavered.

Now the president has given up on a woman he said was the most qualified in the nation.

Where else has Bush gone wrong? His credibility, an asset just a year ago, was undercut when the Iraq war failed to live up to his promises and it was further damaged by his flat-footed response to Hurricane Katrina, according to strategists in both parties.

Even some Republicans believe that Bush made a mistake at the beginning of the year by spending so much postelection political capital on Social Security reform, an issue that few voters cited as a reason for backing him.

Others point to his staff, a talented and loyal group of fellow Texans and their friends who came into the second term bone-tired and short on fresh ideas. Many helped Bush through the Sept. 11 attacks, two wars and a re-election.

Their intense loyalty may have led some advisers to challenge Joseph Wilson's credibility when he questioned Bush's evidence on Iraq and nuclear material. The question Fitzgerald was appointed to explore is whether anybody crossed the line and purposely revealed that Wilson's wife was a spy.

"The bad news tends to breed bad news and oftentimes there is no way to get out of it other than to just wait it out," Lockhart said.

The best thing about bad news is it might get better.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The World Can't Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime! Mobilize for November 2, 2005

The World Can't Wait!
Drive Out the Bush Regime!
Mobilize for November 2, 2005!

Your government, on the basis of outrageous lies, is waging a murderous and utterly illegitimate war in Iraq, with other countries in their sights. Your government is openly torturing people, and justifying it. Your government puts people in jail on the merest suspicion, refusing them lawyers, and either holding them indefinitely or deporting them in the dead of night.

Your government is moving each day closer to a theocracy, where a narrow and hateful brand of Christian fundamentalism will rule.

Your government suppresses the science that doesn't fit its religious, political and economic agenda, forcing present and future generations to pay a terrible price.

Your government is moving to deny women here, and all over the world, the right to birth control and abortion.

Your government enforces a culture of greed, bigotry, intolerance and ignorance.

People look at all this and think of Hitler — and they are right to do so. The Bush regime is setting out to radically remake society very quickly, in a fascist way, and for generations to come. We must act now; the future is in the balance.

Millions and millions are deeply disturbed and outraged by this. They recognize the need for a vehicle to express this outrage, yet they cannot find it; politics as usual cannot meet the enormity of the challenge, and people sense this.

There is not going to be some magical "pendulum swing." People who steal elections and believe they're on a "mission from God" will not go without a fight.

There is not going to be some savior from the Democratic Party. This whole idea of putting our hopes and energies into "leaders" who tell us to seek common ground with fascists and religious fanatics is proving every day to be a disaster, and actually serves to demobilize people.

But silence and paralysis are NOT acceptable. That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn — or be forced — to accept. There is no escaping it: the whole disastrous course of this Bush regime must be STOPPED. And we must take the responsibility to do it.

And there is a way. We are talking about something on a scale that can really make a huge change in this country and in the world. We need more than fighting Bush's outrages one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole onslaught. We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime's program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history.

To that end, on November 2, the first anniversary of Bush's "re-election", we will take the first major step in this by organizing a truly massive day of resistance all over this country. People everywhere will walk out of school, they will take off work, they will come to the downtowns and town squares and set out from there, going through the streets and calling on many more to JOIN US. They will repudiate this criminal regime, making a powerful statement: "NO! THIS REGIME DOES NOT REPRESENT US! AND WE WILL DRIVE IT OUT!"

November 2 must be a massive and public proclamation that WE REFUSE TO BE RULED IN THIS WAY. November 2 must call out to the tens of millions more who are now agonizing and disgusted. November 2 will be the beginning — a giant first step in forcing Bush to step down, and a powerful announcement that we will not stop until he does so — and it will join with and give support and heart to people all over the globe who so urgently need and want this regime to be stopped.

This will not be easy. If we speak the truth, they will try to silence us. If we act, they will to try to stop us. But we speak for the majority, here and around the world, and as we get this going we are going to reach out to the people who have been so badly fooled by Bush and we are NOT going to stop.

The point is this: history is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious. And it is also full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out, only to get swallowed up by a horror beyond what they ever imagined. The future is unwritten. WHICH ONE WE GET IS UP TO US.

These next days are crucial. The call you are reading has to get out to millions right away — on the internet, passed out as flyers in communities, published as ads in newspapers. DO NOT WAIT!! GET ORGANIZED!! If you agree with this statement, add your name to it!!! And do more than that: send it to friends, get them to sign it, organize a meeting, take it to your church, your school, your union, your health club, your barber shop, to concerts and libraries and family gatherings, everywhere you go. Raise money, lots of money. Get people together, make plans to be there on November 2, and to build for it.

The world can't wait! Drive out the Bush Regime! Mobilize for November 2!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Sick Republicans !!!!

This week some of the Bush Crime Family members might have their butts kicked in court!

At least that is what we are hoping for.

The indictements will have a proof that "el Bush" lied about the Iraq weapons of mass destruction.

Maybe then, the dorment demos might wake up and decide to fight the GOP Neocons Crime Family !!

Stop the Bush destruction of the United States of America.

Bush's target:

- Destruction of the social programs

- Destruction of Social-Security/Medicar/Medicaid

- Destruction of labor unions

- Lower wages for the labor force

- Everything for the rich companies: Tax breaks

- Destruction of Bankrupticies laws which favor the people

Monday, October 17, 2005

Impeach Bush !!!

Bush and his crime family, needs to be impeached for the crimes he has committed against US citizens and in Afganistan and Iraq.

Bush hates the poor average american! Bush and his cronies are thieves and murderers.

Bush only care about the big companies in America.

Bush's crime family is in trouble:

Karl Rove/Dick Cheney/George Bush are involved in the Valery Plain CIA agent!

Tom Delay/Bill Frist are been convicted.

Iraq: Bush's objective is to install bases and steal all the oil from Iraq!!

Never an American President was so corrupt like Bush.

Bush's contributions to the American people:

-Stole 2 elections.

- Changed the Bankruptcy law to favor the credit card companies.

- Changed the Medicare Bill making it worse.

- Tried to destroy the Social-Security program.

- Helped the Oil companies to rip the american people by raising oil to $3/gal and above.

- Nominate the warmonger John Bolton as UN Ambassador

- Nominate the murderer John Negroponte
to oversee the spying programs.

- Killed more than 2,000 youn americans in Iraq. Killed a lot of poor people in New Orleans.

- Nominate his buddies for top positions in yhe goverment.

- Is sinking US's economy: Amost 1 trillion dollars deficit. Amost 100 billion trade deficit.

- Bus is cuting all social federal programs.

- Giving tax breaks for the 2% of rich americans.

Is this enough for an impeachment !!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

More Michael Browns

More Michael Browns

By now, the nation has become familiar with the story of Michael Brown, the inexperienced former head of FEMA who oversaw an agency that was disastrously slow in responding to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A friend of former FEMA director Joe Allbaugh, Brown has spent the previous 11 years as the Judges and Stewards Commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association, a position from which he was forced to resign after numerous lawsuits were filed against the organization. While Brown has become the familiar face of "Bush administration cronyism," there are plenty of recent examples of inexperienced personnel filling key posts throughout the Bush administration. Should President Bush fail to take control over this growing problem, he'll continue to put the health and safety of Americans at risk.

IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT NOMINEE LACKS EXPERIENCE IN THE FIELD: The Bush administration's choice to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency is a 36-year old lawyer with "little immigration or customs experience." ICE is one component that completes Border and Transportation Security underneath the greater jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security and Secretary Michael Chertoff. Julie Myers' lack of experience led Sen. George Voinovich to state at her confirmation hearing: "I'd really like to have [Chertoff] spend some time with us, telling us personally why he thinks you're qualified for the job, because based on the résumé, I don't think you are." (Voinovich later recanted his objections after talking privately with Myers and Chertoff). To resolve worries about her lack of experience, Myers said that she pledges to "work with those who are more knowledgeable." Myers retains strong political connections to make up for her lack of professional experience. Her uncle is Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs; she is married to John Wood, Chertoff's current chief of staff; and, she served as an associate under former independent counsel Ken Starr.

CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER FALSIFIED CONTINUING EDUCATION CREDENTIALS: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reassigned a high-ranking Medicare officer after it discovered that he "falsified documents concerning his continuing education." Sean Tunis was formerly the chief medical officer at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a role that placed him in charge of reviewing and implementing all medical issues that arose in the administration of Medicare and Medicaid. Tunis's medical license was suspended last May for at least a year by the Maryland Board of Physicians, and he had been placed on administrative leave since April. HHS recently reassigned him to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality without discussing why the transfer was made. "I regret having made mistakes in handling my (continuing education) records, but I am now pleased to be moving forward into a new phase of my career," Tunis said. Tunis has been placed on a list of personnel who are excluded from doing business with federal health programs.

FDA APPOINTED VETERINARIAN TO HEAD OFFICE OF WOMEN'S HEALTH: The Bush administration recently attempted to appoint an "FDA veteran trained in animal husbandry who spent much of his career in the agency's Center for Veterinary Medicine" to oversee the Office of Women's Health. Animal husbandry is the agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock. The Office of Women's Health is charged with working to "improve the health and well-being of women and girls in the United States." Three days after the Food and Drug Administration announced the appointment of Norris Alderson, the FDA press office sent out a new announcement stating another individual, Theresa Toigo, would head the office. The FDA claimed there was "no official decision" made to hire Alderson, the animal husbandrist. But a membership directory on the office's website listed him as "acting director" (the web page has since been edited).

OTHER INEXPERIENCED BUSH APPOINTEES: The Bush administration has made a number of other hiring decisions that have raised eyebrows. Jay Hallen, a 24-year old undergraduate who majored in political science and "rarely watched financial news stations and didn't follow the stock market," was chosen to rebuild the Iraq Stock Exchange. Gay Hart Gaines, "an interior decorator by training," was chosen to sit on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Board of Directors. And as the Progress Report previously noted, David Safavian, former White House procurement official who is now under arrest, came to his position with little relevant experience.

Under the Radar

ETHICS -- FRIST SOLD FAMILY STOCKS RIGHT BEFORE PRICE DROPPED: Stock prices for Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) fell 15 percent in late July, but not before Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist unloaded his family's shares. HCA is the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain, founded by Frist's father and directed by Frist's brother, who is also a leading stockholder. The senator sold his shares in the corporation by July 1, two weeks before the prices fell, followed by the shares of his wife and children by July 8. His spokeswoman explained Frist's decision to sell his stocks as an attempt to "avoid any appearance of conflict of interest [with his work in the Senate]" and that the reason he chose that particular moment to sell as "he's [never] been worried about it in the past." HCA has donated a total of $83,450 since 1989 to the senator's campaigns. Trading on insider information is illegal.

KATRINA -- FEMA HAS ICE TRUCKS "GOING AROUND IN CIRCLES": The Gloucester Daily Times, a small paper based in Massachusetts' Cape Cod region, reported today that nearly two dozen ice trucks have been sitting on Rogers Street in Gloucester waiting to see where FEMA would send them next. Trucks from across the country have driven thousands of miles moving huge shipments of ice at FEMA's direction. The ice seems to be going everywhere but the Gulf Coast. One truck driver said, "We've done jobs for FEMA before, but never to this extent where you sit and sit and sit. I just drove 1,300 miles to dump ice in Gloucester. This has to be the stupidest thing I have ever done." Portland, Maine is also expecting nearly 200 trucks to be idling in their city by the end of the week. A FEMA spokeswoman said of the fiasco, "Sometimes we have more ice and water that was ordered than is necessary. ... Unfortunately the truckers don't quite understand that."

IRAQ -- HALLIBURTON SERVES CONTAMINATED WATER TO TROOPS: Not only did Halliburton's KBR subsidiary serve U.S. troops in Iraq spoiled food (sometimes a year past the expiration date), but also contaminated water from Iraq's Euphrates River, containing "numerous pathogenic organisms" at nearly two times the normal contamination levels of untreated water. "[R]aw sewage is routinely dumped less than two miles from the water intake location." KBR water quality specialists reported their concerns, but were told by their superiors that their claims were "erroneous" and "corrective measures" had been taken, with no evidence anything had been done. Two whistleblowers resigned because of "unsafe water and pressure to cover it up" (one became sick from the drinking water) and another expects to be terminated soon.

BUDGET -- PELOSI OFFERS TO RETURN TRANSPORTATION FUNDING TO HELP HURRICANE VICTIMS: Despite Rep. Don Young's unwillingness to give up Alaska's $721 million in transportation pork, House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi has offered to return to the federal Treasury $70 million in highway and transportation funding for San Francisco to aid the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast. House Majority Leader Rep. Tom DeLay still refuses to give up his district's portion of the of the behemoth transportation bill (at least $64.4 million), insisting that his "earmarks are pretty important to that region." DeLay has not even promised to honor Pelosi's request to return her funding, saying unenthusiastically that he'll "take a look" at that option.

KATRINA -- LAWMAKERS USE TRAGEDY TO REVIVE BAD POLICY: In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, lawmakers of all political stripes have used the "political climate suddenly altered by the hurricane to try to advance long-stalled, sometimes controversial initiatives." For example, Texas conservative Rep. Joe L. Barton is once again fighting to open up fragile coastal regions to offshore oil drilling, an idea that languished in Congress earlier this year. "If there is a silver lining [to the disaster], and I'm not saying that there is, but if there is, it may be that our country is beginning to realize how fragile our energy sector is," Barton said. Meanwhile, bills that could improve future disaster relief efforts have died. The Senate rejected a bill authorizing $1.5 billion to improve communications equipment, even though Sen. Bill Frist had said that while in New Orleans, "people could not communicate from one side of that room to the other."