Saturday, February 10, 2007

Iran Arrests Al Qaeda Operatives; Cheney doesn't give a hoot

By Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 10, 2007; A01

Last week, the CIA sent an urgent report to President Bush's National Security Council: Iranian authorities had arrested two al-Qaeda operatives traveling through Iran on their way from Pakistan to Iraq. The suspects were caught along a well-worn, if little-noticed, route for militants determined to fight U.S. troops on Iraqi soil, according to a senior intelligence official.
The arrests were presented to Bush's senior policy advisers as evidence that Iran appears committed to stopping al-Qaeda foot traffic across its borders, the intelligence official said. That assessment comes at a time when the Bush administration, in an effort to push for further U.N. sanctions on the Islamic republic, is preparing to publicly accuse Tehran of cooperating with and harboring al-Qaeda suspects.

The strategy has sparked a growing debate within the administration and the intelligence community, according to U.S. intelligence and government officials. One faction is pressing for more economic embargoes against Iran, including asset freezes and travel bans for the country's top leaders. But several senior intelligence and counterterrorism officials worry that a public push regarding the al-Qaeda suspects held in Iran could jeopardize U.S. intelligence-gathering and prompt the Iranians to free some of the most wanted individuals.

"There was real debate about all this," said one counterterrorism official. "If we go public, the Iranians could turn them loose." The official added: "At this point, we know where these guys are and at least they are off the streets. We could lose them for years if we go down this path."
The administration's planned diplomatic offensive is part of an effort to pressure Tehran from multiple directions. Bush has given the U.S. military the authority to kill or capture Iranian government agents working with Shiite militias inside Iraq. Yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said serial numbers and markings on some explosives used in Iraq indicate that the material came from Iran, but he offered no evidence.

With the aim of shaking Tehran's commitment to its nuclear program, Bush also approved last fall secret operations to target Iranian influence in southern Lebanon, in western Afghanistan, in the Palestinian territories and inside Iran. The new strategy, a senior administration official said, aims to portray Iran as a "terror-producing country, instead of an oil-producing country," with links to al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and death squads in Iraq.

U.S. officials have asserted for years that several dozen al-Qaeda fighters, including Osama bin Laden's son, slipped across the Afghan border into Iran as U.S. troops hunted for the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. U.S. and allied intelligence services, which have monitored the men's presence inside Iran, reported that Tehran was holding them under house arrest as bargaining chips for potential deals with Washington.

Last fall, Bush administration officials asked the CIA to compile a list of those suspects so the White House could publicize their presence. For years, the administration has not revealed their names, in part because it sought to protect its intelligence sources but also because at the time the U.S. government was concealing the identities of suspects it was holding in secret CIA custody.

But the names of some of the men in Iran have become public, including "high-value" targets such as al-Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith of Kuwait and Saif al-Adel of Egypt. U.S. intelligence officials said they are members of the "al-Qaeda operational management committee." U.S. intelligence officials said there are suspicions, but no proof, that one of them may have been involved from afar in planning an attack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in May 2003.

Intelligence officials said bin Laden's son Saad is also being held with the other men in Iran.
Five administration officials were made available for interviews for this story on the condition that they not be identified. Other officials who spoke without permission -- including senior officials, career analysts and policymakers -- said their standing with the White House would be at risk if they were quoted by name.

The State Department, Pentagon and CIA referred all questions about the story to the National Security Council. In a written response to questions, NSC spokesman Gordon Johndroe said: "Iran's sponsorship of terrorism is one of the reasons for the sanctions now against it. We note that U.N. Security Council resolutions already oblige all states to ensure that members of terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, are brought to justice."

Since al-Qaeda fighters began streaming into Iran from Afghanistan in the winter of 2001, Tehran had turned over hundreds of people to U.S. allies and provided U.S. intelligence with the names, photographs and fingerprints of those it held in custody, according to senior U.S. intelligence and administration officials. In early 2003, it offered to hand over the remaining high-value targets directly to the United States if Washington would turn over a group of exiled Iranian militants hiding in Iraq.

Some of Bush's top advisers pushed for the trade, arguing that taking custody of bin Laden's son and the others would produce new leads on al-Qaeda. They were also willing to trade away the exiles -- members of a group on the State Department's terrorist list -- who had aligned with Saddam Hussein in an effort to overthrow the Iranian government.

Officials have said Bush ultimately rejected the exchange on the advice of Vice President Cheney and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who argued that any engagement would legitimize Iran and other state sponsors of terrorism. Bush's National Security Council agreed to accept information from Iran on al-Qaeda but offer nothing in return, officials said.
But no information has been forthcoming, intelligence officials said. One official said the CIA and the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency have disagreed over how effectively the Iranians are controlling al-Qaeda members and whether the Tehran government is aware of the extent of al-Qaeda movements through the country.

Nevertheless, administration officials said they are determined to press Iran on the matter.

"We are not convinced that the Iranians have been honest or open about the level or degree of al-Qaeda presence in their midst," said one Bush adviser who was instrumental in coming up with a more confrontational U.S. approach to Iran. "They have not made proper accounting with respect to U.N. resolutions, have not been clear about who is in detention and have not been clear as to what is happening to individuals who might be in custody."

Bush administration officials pointed to U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1267 and 1373, which state that harboring al-Qaeda members constitutes a threat to international peace and security, and authorize force to combat that threat. The resolutions compel nations to share any information on al-Qaeda suspects and give the United Nations authority to freeze the assets of suspects and those who provide them with safe haven.

Two U.S. officials said the administration plans to argue that Iran is violating those resolutions. A team of senior U.S. officials has been holding briefings for visiting European diplomats on the issue while administration lawyers prepare options for holding Iran in violation of U.N. resolutions.

"We've started a more aggressive and major attempt to try to convince other countries to use their influence on this issue," a senior U.S. diplomat said. "Until now, the Europeans have been focused on the nuclear issue and we want this high up on the agenda."

But another government official predicted that no European country would support a call on Iran to turn the al-Qaeda group over to U.S. military detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a facility widely condemned by Washington's closest allies. In the past year, U.S. officials said they successfully pushed Egypt, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to seek extradition of their citizens held in Iran, but Tehran rebuffed the requests. Administration officials said they interpreted the refusal as evidence of cooperation between the Iranian government and the group.

"We'd be happy to see them face trial anywhere," a senior administration official said.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Rice Has Over-dosed On The Kool Aid

By Janine Zacharia

Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush, riding high after his re-election two years ago, tapped his confidante and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to chart an ambitious, second-term foreign policy as secretary of state.

In February 2005, Rice, already the star of the Bush cabinet, described for reporters on her maiden cross-Atlantic trip as secretary ``the tremendous opportunities ahead of us,'' including spreading ``freedom and liberty to places they've never been.''

Two years later, few of those goals have been realized. Iraq, and possibly Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, are sliding into civil war, Iran is pursuing its nuclear ambitions unchecked, Russia is ignoring demands for political and economic openness, and China is building ties with U.S. adversaries.

Rice's public approval rating is slipping, and she is getting more of the flak for the prosecution of the Iraq war than ever before.

`Condi is seen as being the loyal implementer of the president's policy priorities, and as a result she's getting the same kind of treatment as her boss,'' said Lee Feinstein, a former State Department policy planner now at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

Last month, that new criticism was evident as Rice was pummeled in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee while trying to sell Bush's troop-increase plan for Iraq. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, even questioned whether Rice, 52, was capable of a wise decision in Iraq because she is childless and won't suffer a personal loss.

Iraq Hearings

The Jan. 11 hearing marked a shift for Rice, who had avoided the blame heaped on former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other Pentagon officials for the deterioration of security in Iraq.

Criticism from lawmakers contrasted with adulation she received at the start of her tenure. In the first trip abroad, the spike-heeled, black boots Rice wore triggered a burst of camera flashes in Germany. A grassroots movement emerged to persuade her to seek the presidency in 2008. Rice has said she won't seek the office.

Rice defends the administration against criticism of its diplomacy, citing agreements such as a deal to provide India with civilian nuclear power technology, and efforts to insert U.S. diplomats deep into trouble spots like Sudan in what she's coined ``transformational diplomacy.''

`Awfully Impatient'

Rice, with all the Iraq criticism, regularly defends the decision to invade, saying the Iraqi people are better off without a dictator like Saddam Hussein. She told the New York Times last month that critics are sometimes ``awfully impatient'' with an Iraqi government that has been in power for only nine months.

When asked by Senator Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, what she has done ``personally'' to deal with the crisis in Iraq, Rice said at the Jan. 11 Senate hearing that she had been pressing Arab states and the European Union to help.

She has shown an aptitude to snap into action in moments of crisis. Five days after North Korea detonated a nuclear device in October, the United Nations passed a resolution barring weapons sales to the reclusive nation after Rice helped win Chinese backing for the measure.

Still, throughout Washington, criticism of Rice stretches beyond Iraq to other policy areas and to her management skills. Senator George Voinovich, an Ohio Republican, said at a Jan. 30 Senate hearing for her incoming deputy, John Negroponte, that the State Department was ``hemorrhaging'' and drew an unfavorable comparison between Rice and her more popular predecessor, Colin Powell.

`Terrific Manager'

"She's actually a terrific manager,'' Rice's spokesman, Sean McCormack, said in an interview. "You'll find State Department morale is actually very high.''

There has been an exodus of high-level officials. Among the most prominent departures was Robert Zoellick, who resigned as deputy secretary of state in June. Rice's counselor, Philip Zelikow, who provided many of the ideas on North Korea, returned to academia, and her communications strategist, Jim Wilkinson, left for the Treasury Department.

Robert Joseph, undersecretary for arms control and international security, and John Hillen, the assistant secretary for political-military affairs who was just starting a Persian Gulf security initiative, also have quit. Neither publicly gave a reason for leaving.

In areas beyond Iraq, Rice has struggled to achieve foreign- policy objectives.

Iran, Sudan

She was forced to accept a watered-down resolution on Iran's nuclear program in the UN Security Council after Russia balked at tougher sanctions. The resolution has failed to persuade President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to stop the uranium enrichment that the U.S. suspects is a step toward a nuclear bomb.

In Africa, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir defies the diplomatic community by preventing a full UN force from patrolling Darfur. In Latin America, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is spreading his version of anti-American populism to Bolivia and beyond.

Rice also should be paying more attention to China and its growing economic and military clout, policy analysts say.

"More intensive and coordinated, senior level, State Department engagement with China would bring benefits that we're not seeing now,'' said Bates Gill, a China scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Soviet Scholar

Rice, a scholar of the former Soviet Union, is facing a Russia more resistant to U.S. policies. The U.S. has failed to thwart the rollback of democratic change carried out by President Vladimir Putin, win his full cooperation on Iran, or overcome concerns that Russia is using its oil and natural gas exports as a political tool.

Bush's nominee to run U.S. intelligence efforts, retired Navy Vice Admiral Michael McConnell, told a Senate hearing last week that he would focus more attention on Russia, because he is "troubled'' by some trends there.

It is now in the most unlikely of diplomatic arenas that Rice, with only two years to go, is looking for a victory -- the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She is weighing the readiness of each side to accept the parameters of a final peace, her aides say, trying to do what President Bill Clinton could not even as he devoted much of the last year of his presidency to the effort.

Rice will broker a three-way meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Feb. 19. ``It's time to deal with this problem,'' Rice said in a Jan. 25 interview with France-3 TV in Paris.

Allies and Influence

With the U.S. depending on Arab allies for help in Iraq, and those same allies clamoring for U.S. attention to peace efforts, "she is now putting the issue of Palestine on a higher priority because it fits in the new strategy in the region,'' said Ziad Asali, president of the American Task Force in Palestine, a Washington-based advocacy group.

Even if Rice scores a breakthrough, she will remain burdened by Iraq, her aides acknowledge.
"She's part of the Iraq policymaking,'' McCormack said. ``There's a lot of skepticism that's out there.''

"She doesn't take that personally,'' he said. ``It's part of her job.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Janine Zacharia in Washington at or

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.


Despite denials, Pentagon plans for possible attack on nuclear sites are well advanced.

Ewen MacAskill in Washington
Saturday February 10, 2007
The Guardian

A second battle group has been ordered to the Gulf and extra missiles have already been sent out. Meanwhile oil is being stockpiled.

US preparations for an air strike against Iran are at an advanced stage, in spite of repeated public denials by the Bush administration, according to informed sources in Washington.

The present military build-up in the Gulf would allow the US to mount an attack by the spring. But the sources said that if there was an attack, it was more likely next year, just before Mr Bush leaves office.

Neo-conservatives, particularly at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, are urging Mr Bush to open a new front against Iran. So too is the vice-president, Dick Cheney. The state department and the Pentagon are opposed, as are Democratic congressmen and the overwhelming majority of Republicans. The sources said Mr Bush had not yet made a decision.

The Bush administration insists the military build-up is not offensive but aimed at containing Iran and forcing it to make diplomatic concessions. The aim is to persuade Tehran to curb its suspect nuclear weapons programme and abandon ambitions for regional expansion.

Robert Gates, the new US defence secretary, said yesterday: "I don't know how many times the president, secretary [of state Condoleezza] Rice and I have had to repeat that we have no intention of attacking Iran."

But Vincent Cannistraro, a Washington-based intelligence analyst, shared the sources' assessment that Pentagon planning was well under way. "Planning is going on, in spite of public disavowals by Gates. Targets have been selected. For a bombing campaign against nuclear sites, it is quite advanced. The military assets to carry this out are being put in place."

He added: "We are planning for war. It is incredibly dangerous."


Mr Cannistraro, who worked for the CIA and the National Security Council, stressed that no decision had been made.

Last month Mr Bush ordered a second battle group led by the aircraft carrier USS John Stennis to the Gulf in support of the USS Eisenhower. The USS Stennis is due to arrive within the next 10 days. Extra US Patriot missiles have been sent to the region, as well as more minesweepers, in anticipation of Iranian retaliatory action.

In another sign that preparations are under way, Mr Bush has ordered oil reserves to be stockpiled.

The danger is that the build-up could spark an accidental war. Iranian officials said on Thursday that they had tested missiles capable of hitting warships in the Gulf.

Colonel Sam Gardiner, a former air force officer who has carried out war games with Iran as the target, supported the view that planning for an air strike was under way: "Gates said there is no planning for war. We know this is not true. He possibly meant there is no plan for an immediate strike. It was sloppy wording.

"All the moves being made over the last few weeks are consistent with what you would do if you were going to do an air strike. We have to throw away the notion the US could not do it because it is too tied up in Iraq. It is an air operation."

One of the main driving forces behind war, apart from the vice-president's office, is the AEI, headquarters of the neo-conservatives. A member of the AEI coined the slogan "axis of evil" that originally lumped Iran in with Iraq and North Korea. Its influence on the White House appeared to be in decline last year amid endless bad news from Iraq, for which it had been a cheerleader. But in the face of opposition from Congress, the Pentagon and state department, Mr Bush opted last month for an AEI plan to send more troops to Iraq. Will he support calls from within the AEI for a strike on Iran?

Josh Muravchik, a Middle East specialist at the AEI, is among its most vocal supporters of such a strike.

"I do not think anyone in the US is talking about invasion. We have been chastened by the experience of Iraq, even a hawk like myself." But an air strike was another matter. The danger of Iran having a nuclear weapon "is not just that it might use it out of the blue but as a shield to do all sorts of mischief. I do not believe there will be any way to stop this happening other than physical force."

Mr Bush is part of the American generation that refuses to forgive Iran for the 1979-81 hostage crisis. He leaves office in January 2009 and has said repeatedly that he does not want a legacy in which Iran has achieved superpower status in the region and come close to acquiring a nuclear weapon capability. The logic of this is that if diplomatic efforts fail to persuade Iran to stop uranium enrichment then the only alternative left is to turn to the military.

Mr Muravchik is intent on holding Mr Bush to his word: "The Bush administration have said they would not allow Iran nuclear weapons. That is either bullshit or they mean it as a clear code: we will do it if we have to. I would rather believe it is not hot air."

Other neo-cons elsewhere in Washington are opposed to an air strike but advocate a different form of military action, supporting Iranian armed groups, in particular the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), even though the state department has branded it a terrorist organisation.

Raymond Tanter, founder of the Iran Policy Committee, which includes former officials from the White House, state department and intelligence services, is a leading advocate of support for the MEK. If it comes to an air strike, he favours bunker-busting bombs. "I believe the only way to get at the deeply buried sites at Natanz and Arak is probably to use bunker-buster bombs, some of which are nuclear tipped. I do not believe the US would do that but it has sold them to Israel."

Opposition support

Another neo-conservative, Meyrav Wurmser, director of the centre for Middle East policy at the Hudson Institute, also favours supporting Iranian opposition groups. She is disappointed with the response of the Bush administration so far to Iran and said that if the aim of US policy after 9/11 was to make the Middle East safer for the US, it was not working because the administration had stopped at Iraq. "There is not enough political will for a strike. There seems to be various notions of what the policy should be."

In spite of the president's veto on negotiation with Tehran, the state department has been involved since 2003 in back-channel approaches and meetings involving Iranian officials and members of the Bush administration or individuals close to it. But when last year the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, sent a letter as an overture, the state department dismissed it within hours of its arrival.

Support for negotiations comes from centrist and liberal think tanks. Afshin Molavi, a fellow of the New America Foundation, said: "To argue diplomacy has not worked is false because it has not been tried. Post-90s and through to today, when Iran has been ready to dance, the US refused, and when the US has been ready to dance, Iran has refused. We are at a stage where Iran is ready to walk across the dance floor and the US is looking away."

He is worried about "a miscalculation that leads to an accidental war".

The catalyst could be Iraq. The Pentagon said yesterday that it had evidence - serial numbers of projectiles as well as explosives - of Iraqi militants' weapons that had come from Iran. In a further sign of the increased tension, Iran's main nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, cancelled a visit to Munich for what would have been the first formal meeting with his western counterparts since last year.

If it does come to war, Mr Muravchik said Iran would retaliate, but that on balance it would be worth it to stop a country that he said had "Death to America" as its official slogan.

"We have to gird our loins and prepare to absorb the counter-shock," he said.

War of words

"If Iran escalates its military action in Iraq to the detriment of our troops and/or innocent Iraqi people, we will respond firmly" George Bush, in an interview with National Public Radio

"The Iranians clearly believe that we are tied down in Iraq, that they have the initiative, that they are in position to press us in many ways. They are doing nothing to be constructive in Iraq at this point." Robert Gates

"I think it's been pretty well-known that Iran is fishing in troubled waters." Dick Cheney

"It is absolutely parallel. They're using the same dance steps - demonise the bad guys, the pretext of diplomacy, keep out of negotiations, use proxies. It is Iraq redux" Philip Giraldi, a former CIA counter- terrorism specialist, in Vanity Fair, on echoes of the run-up to the war in Iraq

"US policymakers and analysts know that the Iranian nation would not let an invasion go without a response. Enemies of the Islamic system fabricated various rumours about death and health to demoralise the Iranian nation, but they did not know that they are not dealing with only one person in Iran. They are facing a nation." Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Bush's Uncle Under Investigation (surprise, surprise)

I can remember when we all thought that the idea that the Bush famliy, itself, was a sort of Ma and Pa crime ring sounded ludicrous. Yep, even knowing that old Prescott had, sort of, laundered money for the Nazis, even after the U.S. entere the fray.

It's true. The Bushes and Walkers even had their assets frozen.

Nevertheless, we now, to a number, believe that the Bush family, including close family allies, friends and business associates, who are usually guilty of something, themselves, make up the biggest, most dangerous crime family in American History

I see it as almost poetic justice that it is the eldest, self-confessed black sheep of a dark dynasty who finally OUTS a whole damn bed of rattle-snakes, as a result of his high-brow, barely hidden these days, incurious, intellectually challenged, frat boy-routine, as he drags the nation further and further down into an bottomless hell pitt.

By Tim McLaughlin

Feb 7, 2007 — NEW YORK (Reuters) - President George W. Bush's uncle, William H.T. "Bucky" Bush, was part of a group of outside directors at a defense contractor who realized about $6 million in unauthorized pay from an options backdating scheme, according to U.S. securities investigators.

Bush and other non-employee directors who served on the board of Engineered Support Systems Inc., now owned by DRS Technologies Inc., are not accused of any wrongdoing in a civil complaint filed on Tuesday by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The SEC complaint, however, says the non-employee directors benefited from stock options not approved by shareholders.

"As a result, the company provided significant additional compensation to its outside directors beyond what shareholders had approved," the SEC complaint said. "These same directors later realized approximately $6 million from the exercise of their addtional stock options."
The complaint did not break out how much Bush and the other outside directors received from a total of 132,000 shares of unauthorized shares.

Bush, whose brother is former President George H.W. Bush, was unavailable for comment. He served on St. Louis-based ESSI's board from 2000 until the St. Louis defense contractor was acquired last year for nearly $2 billion by DRS, which sells engineering services to the U.S. military.

Bush served on ESSI's audit committee and received $2,500 a month in consulting fees, an arrangement that later was ended for him and other outside directors. Bush also received a fixed amount of ESSI shares each year for his work on the board.

Before the DRS deal was approved in January 2006, Bush held ESSI shares worth $3.8 million, SEC filings show.

Between 1995 and early 2005, ESSI's stock climbed nearly 900 percent as the company sold cargo loaders, generators and trailers to the Pentagon. ESSI's board was politically connected and included several retired generals.

The SEC on Tuesday accused ESSI's former chief financial officer, Gary C. Gerhardt, and former controller, Steven J. Landmann, of orchestrating a backdating scheme that spanned six years. In all, executives and directors netted $20 million in unauthorized pay, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in St. Louis.
Continued1. 2. NEXT»

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Bush's All-Out Assault On The Poor

So! Is there a Democrat, let alone an independent,that still bellieves this White House , as well as the GOP leadership in Congress, has any interest at all in Bipartisanship?

If so, please raise you hands, because you really do need to be studied and you do not need to hold high office. I draw the line and rank stupidity or fatal states of denial.

by Randy Shaw‚ Feb. 07‚ 2007

Blunted thus far in his efforts to expand America’s war to Iran, President Bush has found a target closer to home: America’s homeless and low-income tenants.

The Bush budget plan for fiscal year 2008 announced on February 6 slashes key low-income housing programs, while increasing America’s mammoth defense budget by 11%---an increase that does not include funding for the Iraq war.

It will again be up to Congress to not only stop the cuts, but to achieve the long overdue budget increases necessary to stop the worsening of the nation’s homeless and housing crisis.While the Bush Administration sends public relations staff like Phil Mangano around the country touting plans to end chronic homelessness, the President continues efforts to cut housing programs for the poor. The new Bush budget plan would reduce the vital Project Based Rental Assistance Program, which currently funds about 1.2 million project based subsidies, by $163 million.

Public Housing funding would be cut by nearly $400 million.While the budget for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program would rise by approximately one half of one percent or about $80 million. This is far less than would be needed to keep the program operating at its existing level, since increases in annual rent payments to landlords will clearly exceed that amount.This means that despite all evidence that Section 8 housing is critical for getting families out of homelessness, the Bush Administration seeks to reduce the number of families served by the program.

In announcing his budget, Bush said it reflected his chief priority of “protecting Americans.” That term appears to only apply to American military personnel, not low-income families whose health, education, and futures are threatened by homelessness.While the budget increases funding for homeless assistance programs by $120 million, homeless advocates recognize that this increase is greatly outweighed by cuts to affordable housing programs. According to Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, "increasing access to affordable housing is the key component to ending homelessness nationwide. Without increases in affordable housing, community efforts to end homelessness are doomed to failure."Of particular concern to many San Francisco nonprofits is Bush’s proposed $736 million cut to the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG). San Francisco’s CDBG program funds a wide spectrum of critical housing, education and community development services.To show you how far America’s budget has moved rightward in the past three decades, Richard Nixon’s 1972 re-election campaign highlighted the fact that “for the first time in 20 years we are spending more on human resources than defense.” Nixon was a big booster of the CDBG program, which was enacted during his presidency and began in 1974.The CDBG program’s decimation began with Ronald Reagan, but the program proved so popular with Republican mayors---the money is allocated by local governments-- that it survived. But the same president who has allocated over $20 billion for community development in Iraq has consistently opposed providing adequate funding to improve America’s low-income neighborhoods.Bush’s budget even cuts housing for the elderly (Section 202) by $160 million, and housing for people with Disabilities (Section 811) by $112 million.

Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS (HOPWA) would rise by $14 million, an amount barely sufficient to fund this unmet need in California. And the man who ran in 2000 as a “compassionate conservative” proposes to cut funding for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, Health Care for the Homeless, and Grants for the Benefit of Homeless Individuals/Treatment for Homeless. After making great progress on winning political support for increased federal housing funding in the last years of the Clinton Administration, the Bush Administration has again pushed housing and homelessness off the national radar screen. While the Democratic Congress will likely defeat the worst of the budget cuts, keeping the status quo while millions are ill-housed or homeless in America is an unfortunate if unavoidable goal.For a complete list of Bush budget proposals for homelessness-related programs, go to

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Rice Can't Remember Iran Overture (yeah, right!)

What is it with memories at the White House?

Is there some kind of Alzheimer's epidemic going on?

What are they smoking or drinking or popping over there?

Whatever the problem, it seems to be more serious among the Neocons. Just look at the two bad memories here: Rice and Elliot Abrams.

Are people, so afflicted, fit to serve in high office?

By Spencer Ackerman - February 8, 2007, 6:25 PM

I just got off the phone with Flynt Leverett, a former CIA Mideast analyst and National Security Council staffer during President Bush's first term. Leverett says he finds it "really quite curious" that Secretary Rice is pleading a memory lapse on an Iranian offer shortly after the Iraq war to, among other things, recognize Israel.

Leverett himself says he "saw the actual document" detailing the offer, which arrived at the State Department's Near Eastern Affairs bureau via fax around late April or early May of 2003, when he had left the White House to return to his regular post as an analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency.

Leverett wasn't around to personally show Rice the document. But, he says, "What I was told from colleagues over at the NSC, people I knew on the NSC staff -- I dont know for a fact that it was put on (Rice's) desk, but it did go to the NSC. And I know for a fact that at State, it went all the way up to [Secretary of State Colin] Powell."

When the fax arrived at the State Department in 2003, the senior director for the Middle East at the NSC was Elliott Abrams. An NSC spokeswoman told Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post, who broke the Iran-overture story last year, that Abrams has no recollection of the fax either.

What's more, Leverett says that he tried to include information on the fax in a New York Times op-ed he wrote in December of 2006 that was heavily redacted at the White House's behest. Even though the information had been reported before -- in Kessler's original Post story, for instance -- the White House held it back, claiming it was "classified."

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Fitzgerald Rests Strong Prosecution

David Corn
Thu Feb 8, 4:13 PM ET

The Nation

It was Hail Mary time for Ted Wells, an attorney for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, as the prosecution moved toward resting its case in the perjury trial of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff.

On Thursday, Meet the Press anchor Tim Russert was back on the stand to be cross-examined by Wells. The previous day, Russert had kicked Libby's cover story in the groin. He had disputed Libby's claim that in the days before the leak that outed Valerie Wilson as a CIA officer he (Libby) had learned about her CIA connection not from official sources but from Russert. No way, the newsman said. The Russert call is critical for Libby, who has maintained he never shared official (that is, classified) information about Valerie Wilson with other reporters and only passed along gossip he had picked up from Russert. But on the stand Russert stuck to his version: he didn't say anything to Libby about Wilson's wife during a phone call on July 10 or 11, 2003, because he knew nothing about Wilson's wife until the leak appeared in a July 14 Robert Novak column.

So what was Wells to do?

He started off Wednesday by taking shots at Russert's memory. He made little progress. On Thursday, he tried to undermine Russert's credibility on other fronts. Wells attempted to make an issue of the fact that until Russert appeared as a witness in this trial he had never divulged publicly that he had talked to the FBI about the CIA leak investigation in November 2003. Wasn't Russert's call with the FBI a "newsworthy event?" Wells inquired, hinting that Russert had for years hid part of his involvement in the CIA leak case.

Russert explained that he had not reported the conversation because the FBI agent had asked him to keep it confidential.

Wells then tossed far-fetched theories at the jury.

On the stand, Russert had said that none of his NBC colleagues had told him anything about Wilson's wife. What about David Gregory and Andrea Mitchell? Wells asked. None meant none, Russert noted. But Wells still was holding out the possibility that Gregory received leaked information on Wilson's wife from then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and then quickly relayed it to Russert, who shared it with Libby.

It's a thin theory--especially because neither Russert nor Gregory reported any news about Wilson's wife at the time. And the timing of real-world events may undermine the theory. But Wells keeps hammering at this possibility.

To buttress this part of his case, Wells tried to play for the jurors a video clip of Andrea Mitchell saying on CNBC in early October 2003 that she had known about Valerie Wilson's CIA employment prior to the Novak leak. But Mitchell, in two later interviews on Don Imus's radio show (which also aired on MSNBC), said she had misspoken and she retracted the comment.

Wells suggested that Russert and Mitchell had conspired to undo Mitchell's remark so Russert's statements related to the leak case would not be undermined. He asked permission to show all these tapes to the jury. "This is nitpicky at best," Judge Reggie Walton complained. He ruled the tapes could not be played.

Next Wells took another shot at Russert's credibility. He pointed out that during Russert's appearance the previous day he had testified that Libby used the words "hell" and "damn" when he had called Russert in July 2003 to complain about Hardball host Chris Matthews' on-air criticisms of Cheney and Libby. Yet, Wells said, when Russert gave a deposition to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald in August 2004 about this conversation with Libby he had not referred to these curse words--as if Russert had somehow suspiciously changed his account.

Russert explained that during his deposition he had said that Libby had been "venting" and that word covered the cursing.

Such small stuff did not seem to impress the jurors; many appeared to be unriveted by Wells' questioning of Russert. Finally, Wells played his last card. Was there, he dramatically asked the witness, "bad blood" between Russert (and all of NBC News) and Libby? "No, sir," Russert replied in the quiet tone he had used throughout his testimony. But Wells had evidence to suggest otherwise.

It was another Imus clip. On the morning of October 28, 2005, hours before Fitzgerald was to announce indictments in the CIA leak case, Russert was on the show (via telephone) telling Imus about the mood of anticipation within the Washington press corps and his own NBC News bureau: "It was like Christmas Eve last night. Santa Claus is coming tomorrow. Surprises. What's under the tree?"

Citing this comment, Wells contended that Russert was "elated" that Libby was about to be indicted. No, Russert said, he was referring to the fact that a "big news day" was coming and that no one knew for sure what Fitzgerald would announce. Was Russert equating an indictment of Libby with Christmas "presents under the tree?" Wells asked. No, the television host said. "You looked very happy" in the Imus clip, Wells countered. That was a "still picture," Russert noted.

The cross examination was over

One more swing and a miss for Wells. In the first three weeks of the case, Wells and co-counsel Bill Jeffrey have suggested there have been a Variety Pak of plots against their client: a CIA conspiracy against Libby, a State Department conspiracy against Libby, a White House conspiracy against Libby, and, now, an NBC News conspiracy against Libby. But they have introduced no evidence to back up any of this.

Wells' attempt to transform Russert's Christmas comment into proof that Russert and NBC News were bent on ruining Libby was typical. It was silly. But Wells is merely acting as a defense attorney should. Pull on any thread you can. Raise any matter that might sow confusion or doubt among the jurors. Nevertheless, he failed to undercut Russert, Fitzgerald's final witness.

The prosecution ended strongly. Fitzgerald has presented a parade of witnesses who have contradicted Libby on the key points: what he had known about Valerie Wilson and what he had told journalists. The defense is expected to call its first witnesses on Monday. The lineup will probably include several reporters who spoke to Libby before the CIA leak happened and who will testify that he said nothing to them about Valerie Wilson's wife. But Wells might need more than that--and more than word games and hints of plots--to beat back Fitzgerald.

DON"T FORGET ABOUT HUBRIS: THE INSIDE STORY OF SPIN, SCANDAL, AND THE SELLING OF THE IRAQ WAR, the best-selling book by David Corn and Michael Isikoff. "The selling of Bush's Iraq debacle is one of the most important--and appalling--stories of the last half-century, and Michael Isikoff and David Corn have reported the hell out of it."

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Libby Testimony Tapes Released

For audio and transcripts,

February 8, 2007 · A jury in Washington, D.C., has spent the week listening to audio recordings of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's testimony before a grand jury in March 2004.

These recordings – in which Libby allegedly lies under oath – are at the heart of the prosecutor's case against Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff. Libby is accused of obstructing a federal investigation into the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity by lying to a grand jury and FBI agents. Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, was a prominent critic of the White House's justification for war with Iraq.
The judge in the Libby case took the unusual step of releasing the audio recordings of Libby's eight hours before the grand jury. These recordings are now available publicly. Here are some of the highlights:

On Conversations with NBC News' Tim Russert

This section of Libby's grand jury testimony appeared in the indictment charging Libby with perjury and obstruction of justice. Libby recounts a phone call he had with NBC journalist Tim Russert. Libby says that during this call, Russert told Libby that Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. Russert has testified "that would be impossible, because I didn't know who [Valerie Plame] was until several days later."

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Russert is Grilled By Libby Attorney, Wells

They must be desperate to take off on Timmeh, since he has been one of the MSM's most reliable softball throwers

By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer

NBC's Tim Russert deflected criticism of his ethics and credibility as he completed a heated second day of cross-examination Thursday in the trial of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter Libby.

Russert, who testified that he never discussed outed CIA operative Valerie Plame with Libby, was the final prosecution witness before Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald rested his three-week perjury and obstruction case. Libby's attorneys will begin calling witnesses Monday.

The journalist was subjected to the kind of interrogation he usually gives guests on his Sunday television show "Meet the Press," as attorneys flashed excerpts of his previous statements on a video monitor and asked him to explain inconsistencies.

A law school graduate, Russert avoided several traps defense attorneys laid before him. He seemed uncomfortable at times, however, as they asked him to explain why he willingly told an FBI agent about a July 2003 conversation with Libby, then gave a sworn statement saying he would not testify about that conversation because it was confidential.

"Did you disclose in the affidavit to the court that you had already disclosed the contents of your conversation with Mr. Libby," asked Theodore Wells, one of Libby's attorneys.

"As I've said, sir ... "Russert began.

"It's a yes or no question," Wells interrupted.

"I'd like to answer it to the best of my ability," Russert said.

"This is a very simple question. Either it's in the affidavit or it's not?" Wells asked. "Did you disclose to the court that you had already communicated to the FBI the fact that you had communicated with Mr. Libby?"

"No," Russert said.

Wells wants to cast Russert as someone who cannot be believed, who publicly championed the sanctity of off-the-record conversations but privately revealed that information to investigators.

Russert said he viewed the FBI conversation and testimony to prosecutors differently.
Russert's credibility is under fire because he and Libby tell very different stories about a July 2003 phone call that is at the heart of the case. The question of which to believe could be a critical jury room issue.

Both men agree that Libby called Russert to complain about a colleague's news coverage. Libby says at the end of the call, Russert told him "all the reporters know" that Plame, the wife of a prominent war critic, worked for the CIA. Russert testified that part of the conversation never occurred.

"That would be impossible," Russert testified Wednesday. "I didn't know who that person was until several days later."

Libby subsequently repeated the information about Plame to other journalists, always with the caveat that he had heard it from reporters, he has said. Prosecutors say Libby concocted the Russert conversation to shield him from prosecution for revealing classified information from government sources.

Libby's attorneys say Russert knew about Plame from colleagues David Gregory and Andrea Mitchell. Mitchell said in an interview that she and other reporters knew Plame worked for the CIA but she later recanted that statement. Wells had hoped to play clips of Mitchell discussing her statements on the Don Imus morning show on MSNBC.

Fitzgerald successfully argued that the tapes not be played.

"We might as well take 'Wigmore on Evidence' and replace it with 'Imus on Evidence,'" Fitzgerald said, referencing the classic treatise on evidentiary law. "There's no Imus exception to the hearsay rule. This has no business in a federal court."

Wells has questioned Russert about other phone conversations he couldn't remember, inconsistencies between his current account and FBI notes of an agent's original interview with him, and the likelihood that he would've let such a high-ranking official off the phone without fishing for some news.

Suggesting that Russert was eager to see Libby face charges, Wells played a video of Russert discussing the impending indictment with Imus. Russert sounded giddy at times in the discussion, laughing and describing the anticipation as "like Christmas Eve."

Russert said he was eager for the story to unfold like any big event.

"Did you take joy in Mr. Libby's indictment?" Fitzgerald asked during follow-up questioning.
"No, not at all," Russert said. "And I don't take joy in being here."

Libby's attorneys also will try to undercut the credibility of former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who testified that Libby revealed Plame's identity to her. Defense attorney William Jeffress said he intends to call Miller's former boss, Times managing editor Jill Abramson, to try to refute Miller and question her credibility.

Associated Press writer Michael J. Sniffen contributed to this report.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Draft Gore Movement is Up and Runnung

By PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writer
Thu Feb 8, 10:21 PM ET

Veterans of Al Gore's past are quietly assembling a campaign to draft the former vice president into the 2008 presidential race — despite his repeated statements that he's not running.

His top policy adviser from his 2000 presidential campaign and other key supporters met Thursday in Boston to mull a potential Gore campaign. The participants and Gore's Nashville office both said Gore, who is in London, is not involved.

Elaine Kamarck, a veteran of the Clinton White House and Gore's policy guru in 2000, said the meeting was informal and shouldn't be taken as a sign there will be a Gore 2008 campaign.

Chris Mackin, a Boston consultant and Gore supporter, called it "an early stage conversation." But he added: "We're very serious about exploring this."

Gore's spokeswoman, Kalee Kreider, said the only campaign Gore is on right now is against global warming.

"He so appreciates the sentiment behind efforts like this. But he's been very clear he really has no intention of running for president in 2008," she said.

Gore won a hard-fought primary campaign to become the Democratic nominee in 2000. He won the popular vote, but lost to President Bush after a messy legal challenge ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Since then, the former Tennessee senator has worked against global warming and served on corporate boards, including Google and Apple Inc. Due to a range of business ventures, aides have said Gore could spend as much as $50 million of his own money to launch a credible presidential run.

And, in the background, groups have been lobbying for Gore's return to presidential politics.

"He certainly has the right political climate. How many political candidates are being nominated for Nobel prizes and winning Oscars?" said Dylan Malone, co-founder of and organizer of a political action committee trying to draft Gore.

His work on global warming earned him a Nobel nomination and two Oscar nods for his documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." He has re-branded himself on late-night television and has brought together a stable of grass-roots supporters.

In 2002, Gore asked Malone to stop a draft effort he had begun; Malone did. Malone started up again and, so far, Gore hasn't waved him off.

"The difference is dramatic. His time has come," Malone said. "We're raising tens of thousands of dollars fairly easily. Our mailing lists are growing so quickly we have to buy new computers."
In a New Hampshire poll released this week, Gore ranked fourth, behind Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) and John Edwards. Gore earned 8 percent.

The results mirror other polls nationwide.

"He certainly is in a position he can get into this," said Doug Hattaway, Gore's campaign spokesman in 2000. "He doesn't need to jump into this right away. He can keep his powder dry for a while."

Gore is scheduled to be in Washington next month to testify on Capitol Hill on global warming.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Edwards is Moving in The Right Direction on healthcare

What a difference two years makes!

At this point in 2005, the only question seemed to be how much of America’s social insurance system — the triumvirate of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — the Bush administration would manage to dismantle.

Now almost all prominent Democrats and quite a few Republicans pay at least lip service to calls for a major expansion of social insurance, in the form of universal health care.

But fine words, by themselves, mean nothing. Remember “compassionate conservatism?” I won’t trust presidential candidates on health care unless they provide enough specifics to show both that they understand the issues, and that they’re willing to face up to hard choices when necessary.

And former Senator John Edwards has just set a fine example.

At first glance, the Edwards health care plan looks similar to several other proposals out there, including one recently unveiled by Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. But a closer look reveals extra features in the Edwards plan that take it a lot closer to what the country really needs.

Like Mr. Schwarzenegger, Mr. Edwards sets out to cover the uninsured with a combination of regulation and financial aid. Right now, many people are uninsured because, as the Edwards press release puts it, insurance companies “game the system to cover only healthy people.” So the Edwards plan, like Schwarzenegger’s, imposes “community rating” on insurers, basically requiring them to sell insurance to everyone at the same price.

Many other people are uninsured because they simply can’t afford the cost. So the Edwards plan, again like other proposals, offers financial aid to help lower-income families buy insurance.

To pay for this aid, he proposes rolling back tax cuts for households with incomes over $200,000 a year.

Finally, some people try to save money by going without coverage, so if they get sick they end up in emergency rooms at public expense. Like other plans, the Edwards plan would “require all American residents to get insurance,” and would require that all employers either provide insurance to their workers or pay a percentage of their payrolls into a government fund used to buy insurance.

But Mr. Edwards goes two steps further.

People who don’t get insurance from their employers wouldn’t have to deal individually with insurance companies: they’d purchase insurance through “Health Markets”: government-run bodies negotiating with insurance companies on the public’s behalf. People would, in effect, be buying insurance from the government, with only the business of paying medical bills — not the function of granting insurance in the first place — outsourced to private insurers.

Why is this such a good idea?

As the Edwards press release points out, marketing and underwriting — the process of screening out high-risk clients — are responsible for two-thirds of insurance companies’ overhead. With insurers selling to government-run Health Markets, not directly to individuals, most of these expenses should go away, making insurance considerably cheaper.

Better still, “Health Markets,” the press release says, “will offer a choice between private insurers and a public insurance plan modeled after Medicare.” This would offer a crucial degree of competition. The public insurance plan would almost certainly be cheaper than anything the private sector offers right now — after all, Medicare has very low overhead. Private insurers would either have to match the public plan’s low premiums, or lose the competition.

And Mr. Edwards is O.K. with that.

“Over time,” the press release says, “the system may evolve toward a single-payer approach if individuals and businesses prefer the public plan.”So this is a smart, serious proposal. It addresses both the problem of the uninsured and the waste and inefficiency of our fragmented insurance system. And every candidate should be pressed to come up with something comparable.

Yes, that includes Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

So far, all we have from Mr. Obama is inspiring rhetoric about universal care — that’s great, but how do we get there? And how do we know whether Mrs. Clinton, who says that she’s “not ready to be specific,” and that she wants to “build the consensus first,” will really be willing to take on this issue again?To be fair, these are still early days. But America’s crumbling health care system is our most important domestic issue, and I think we have a right to know what those who would be president propose to do about it.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Senate Armed Services Committe looks at Feith's role

'Dubious' Intelligence Fueled Push for War

By Walter Pincus and R. Jeffrey SmithWashington Post Staff WritersFriday, February 9, 2007;

Intelligence provided by former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith to buttress the White House case for invading Iraq included "reporting of dubious quality or reliability" that supported the political views of senior administration officials rather than the conclusions of the intelligence community, according to a report by the Pentagon's inspector general.

Feith's office "was predisposed to finding a significant relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda," according to portions of the report, released yesterday by Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.). The inspector general described Feith's activities as "an alternative intelligence assessment process."

An unclassified summary of the full document is scheduled for release today in a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which Levin chairs. In that summary, a copy of which was obtained from another source by The Washington Post, the inspector general concluded that Feith's assessment in 2002 that Iraq and al-Qaeda had a "mature symbiotic relationship" was not fully supported by available intelligence but was nonetheless used by policymakers.

At the time of Feith's reporting, the CIA had concluded only that there was an "evolving" association, "based on sources of varying reliability."

In a telephone interview yesterday, Feith emphasized the inspector general's conclusion that his actions, described in the report as "inappropriate," were not unlawful. "This was not 'alternative intelligence assessment,' " he said. "It was from the start a criticism of the consensus of the intelligence community, and in presenting it I was not endorsing its substance."

Feith, who was defense policy chief before leaving the government in 2005, was one of the key contributors to the administration's rationale for war. His intelligence activities, authorized by then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul D. Wolfowitz, and coordinated with Vice President Cheney's office, stemmed from an administration belief that the CIA was underplaying evidence of then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's ties with al-Qaeda.

In interviews with Pentagon investigators, the summary document said, Feith insisted that his activities did not constitute intelligence and that "even if they were, [they] would be appropriate given that they were responding to direction from the Deputy Secretary of Defense."

The report was requested in fall 2005 by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), then chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Although the committee and a number of official inquiries had criticized the administration's prewar intelligence, Democratic senators, led by Levin, demanded further investigation of Feith's operation.

"The bottom line is that intelligence relating to the Iraq-al-Qaeda relationship was manipulated by high-ranking officials in the Department of Defense to support the administration's decision to invade Iraq," Levin said yesterday. "The inspector general's report is a devastating condemnation of inappropriate activities in the DOD policy office that helped take this nation to war."

The summary document confirmed a range of accusations that Levin had leveled against Feith's office, alleging inaccurate work.

Feith's office, it said, drew on "both reliable and unreliable" intelligence reports in 2002 to produce a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq "that was much stronger than that assessed by the IC [Intelligence Community] and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the Administration."

It stated that the office produced intelligence assessments "inconsistent" with the U.S. intelligence community consensus, calling those actions "inappropriate" because the assessments purported to be "intelligence products" but were far more conclusive than the consensus view.

In particular, the summary cited the defense policy office's preparation of slides describing as a "known contact" an alleged 2001 meeting in Prague between Mohamed Atta, the leader of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, and an Iraqi intelligence officer.

That claim figured heavily in statements by Cheney and other senior administration officials alleging a link between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi regime, but it has since been discredited.
Three versions of the briefing prepared by Feith's office were presented in August and September 2002 -- months before the U.S. invasion of Iraq -- to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, then Cheney's chief of staff; Rumsfeld; and then-deputy national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, the summary states.

But only "some of the information" in those briefings was "supported by available intelligence," the summary said. The version of the briefing presented to senior Bush officials, it said, contained different information than a presentation to the CIA. Left out of the version for the CIA, the inspector general said, was "a slide that said there were 'fundamental problems' " with the way the intelligence community was presenting the evidence.

While Pentagon officials said in responses cited in the summary that no senior policymakers mistook these briefings as "intelligence assessments," the inspector general said that administration officials had indeed cited classified intelligence that allegedly documented a close al-Qaeda-Iraq relationship.

The policy office, the summary stated, "was inappropriately performing Intelligence Activities . . . that should be performed by the Intelligence Community."

The summary recommended no action within the Defense Department because, it said, the current collaboration under new leadership at the Pentagon and the intelligence community "will significantly reduce the opportunity for the inappropriate conduct of intelligence activities outside intelligence channels."

Staff writer Karen DeYoung contributed to this report.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Tragedy; staring you, me, all of us, in the face, in a Global Catastrophe.

The word "tragedy"

by Brent Budowsky

Dear Senator Hagel, Senator Warner, Senate Republicans:

For four years of failure and bloodshed in the Iraq war, you have issued warnings, concerns, sage advice, and major suggestions for change.

For four years, the man who calls himself the Decider has given you nothing but contempt for your views, confident that in the end, you would vote with your party.
For four years, you have proven him brilliantly right in his judgment of you, as he was deadly wrong in his conduct of war.

For four years, you advised no, and voted yes.

Three years ago, you issued more warnings, counsel, and sage advice and were treated with
the same disrespect that was shown to our commanders when their advice, too, was ignored.
Three years ago, you advised no, and voted yes, again. Two years ago, again. One year ago, again. And now with this latest tragedy and spectacle in the Senate, again.

You issued warnings, advice, and sage counsel again. You said no and voted yes, again. You were disrespected, again, by the President who ignored your advice, again, and you voted to enable yet another escalation that you know is wrong, again.

You were reduced to voting against your own resolution.

Let's not hide behind procedural excuses or genteel evasions. You know the Senate rules. I worked for Congressional leaders and senior senators and know them, too.

The Majority Leader, in a show of good faith and bipartisanship, supported including the key provision in the Gregg proposal into the Warner proposal. He made a mistake. I made a mistake in advising senior Democrats to work with you in good faith. And you know very well that the only reason the Republican leadership, in league with Karl Rove's shop, demanded a vote on the Gregg proposal was that it would help promote the escalation that you oppose, but enabled, again.

My mistake was one of character judgment. Senator Reid's mistake was an attempt at statesmanship. Your mistake was putting a party line vote designed to promote the escalation, over the high principle of trying to prevent the escalation you oppose.

Four years ago, Three years ago, Two years ago. One year ago. And now this week. Again.
So you voted against your own resolution, in the name of demanding a second resolution designed to promote the escalation that you oppose.

And this from the party that criticized John Kerry for flip flopping?

The Senator from Arizona accused you, and me, and Senator Reid of favoring a vote of no confidence in the troops. Once upon a time, when Senator McCain was younger and truer and his idealism trumped his ambition, he would have known such a statement to be untrue. The advocates of this escalation have learned nothing from mistakes, except to believe that their short pants McCarthyism can bully and intimidate good men into doing bad things.

If there are two men who should never be accused of voting no confidence in the troops, it is you, Senator Hagel and Senator Warner. But, then again, if there are two men who should have made public votes consistent with their private views, after four years, it is you, as well. Again.

How more powerful and right it would have been, for you to charge like lions to the Senate Floor and answer the defamation that you voted no confidence in the troops, in terms as strong as the false accusation. Instead, you retreated to the Republican cloakroom, and cast a party line vote. Again.


For four years, you have been wiser, smarter, more knowledgeable and experienced than those who disrespected your advice, as much as they disrespected the advice of military leaders.

For four years, you said no and voted yes.

For four years, you enabled policies in war you knew were wrong.

or four years, the failure became more deadly, the carnage became more ugly, the casualties became more painful, the damage to our troops and our country and our credibility around the world, and our military force structures, and our deterrent, and our national unity became more grave and extreme.

Yet for four years, the Senators from Virginia and Nebraska issued their words of warning and their counsels for change, but in the end, for four years, based on the real votes on the floor of the Senate, Virginia and Nebraska might as well have been represented by Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman.

What a shame. (What god-damned shame!). What a waste. ( What a waste of human potential)

Hey, what a waste of the human race, eh What a waste of "god's own image!

Do we really know?

Yes, we know. Of course we know.

We are Sentinels. We have been watching you guys for years.

What a lame bunch of jack-offs.

We find it quite amazing. really.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

JFK Jr crash audio released

Does anyone else get the feeling that Democrats should stop flying in private planes?

BOSTON (AP) - Almost eight years after John F. Kennedy Jr. died in a plane crash off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, federal officials on Tuesday released an audio clip of an airport intern and a Federal Aviation Administration dispatcher discussing the missing plane.

A transcript of the conversation between Adam Budd, a 21-year-old college student employed at the Martha's Vineyard Airport, and the call center at the FAA's Automated Flight Service Station in Bridgeport, Conn., was made public four days after the July 16, 1999, crash.

The audio clip released Tuesday by the Department of Transportation was the result of a federal Freedom of Information Act request filed by broadcasters after the crash. A portion of it was aired on Boston's WFXT-TV.

Budd, who generally performed clerical tasks, is heard speaking in a hushed tone, his voice slightly quaking as he asks whether the FAA can track Kennedy's plane.

"Well, who are you?" an unidentified FAA dispatcher asks.

"I'm with airport operations," Budd says, failing to identify which airport until the dispatcher asks.

Budd then says: "Actually, Kennedy Jr.'s on board. He's uh, they want to know, uh, where he is."

When the operator told Budd he wouldn't give the information over the phone, Budd backed off.

"OK, well, if it's too much trouble, it's ... I'll just have 'em wait. ... It's not a big deal," he says, according to the transcript.

Budd's call came in at 10:05 p.m., four hours before a search and rescue mission was assembled after a family friend called the Coast Guard.

Kennedy, the 38-year-old son and namesake of America's 35th president, was flying with his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, 33, and his sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette, 34, when his six-seat, single-engine Piper Saratoga crashed seven miles south of his Martha's Vineyard home. All three were killed.

A report by the National Transportation Safety Board blamed pilot error for the crash, saying Kennedy, who had been flying for 15 months, was not skilled enough for low-visibility nighttime flying and became disoriented in the hazy sky.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Vindication Brings Pain to War Opposition

Ain't that the truth?

No one, I know, in the anti-war movement expects anyone to admit we were right all along, like has apparently happened with big-wigs in Washington.

We expect to be scorned until our dying day. Anything less than that would be a pleasant surprise. But even that would not bring satisfaction or good feelings.

It is not, in the least, satisfying to be right about this debacle in Iraq, let alone the one being planned for Iran.

It makes us heart-sick, depressed, weary and wondering if anything we do is worth it, anymore.

Meanwhile, senators squabble over semantics in non-binding resolutions and use parliamentary procedures to keep from having to go on record with their current beliefs about this evil war.

But, as we, independents promised, we are taking names and we will be kicking some Congressional ass.

They are not the King's Court. They work for us.

By Lynne Duke
The Washington Post
Sunday 04 February 2007

Opponents of the Iraq war voice pain, not vindication, at predictions they could only hope would be wrong.

Sweet vindication. Who wouldn't want it? To be right. To be free of criticism and upheld by evidence, by actual proof, that one's predictions about a controversial war were correct.

It is the culture of this town - trafficking in rightness. People clamor day in and day out, in that polished and politic way of the Washingtonian, to be proved right.

But on Iraq, the vindicated are pained. There is no gloating - not with thousands of people dead, Americans and Iraqis; not with the Iraq war precipitating an ongoing foreign policy crisis that has left the United States' global image in tatters.

For people who were pilloried, penalized or warned to be careful because of their opposition to a powerful president's war, vindication is nothing to celebrate. It is a victory most bitter.

"Emotionally, it's a very traumatic and unhappy outcome." That is retired Army Lt. Gen. William E. Odom, head of the National Security Agency under President Ronald Reagan. "How can you be happy about being right about the disaster that's been created?"

It weighs on him.

"Vindication is not pleasing," he says. "Even some of my friends have noted: the more vindicated I've been, the more irritable I become."

Back before the war even began, Odom said its aims were wrong. He criticized the doctrine of preemption, said al-Qaeda had nothing to do with Iraq and predicted that democracy could scarcely take hold there. A year after the war began, he was quoted calling it a failure - and heard soon thereafter that he'd been dubbed a Benedict Arnold for his views. To dissent, back then, was risky. Not like now, when the conventional wisdom about the conflict has made a U-turn in a political climate where anger over the war toppled the majority party in Congress. The president sounded almost plaintive in his State of the Union address, saying, "This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in."

Lots of people predicted things would turn out this way. They are military brass and lawmakers and foreign policy intellectuals, the kind of wise ones whose counsel is routinely sought and respected. In the run-up to this war, their concerns carried no weight against a swelling of patriotism, a backdrop of fear and an administration determined to oust Saddam Hussein. Their warnings that Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks of Sept. 11 were ignored. Worse, some were shunned and scolded.

As president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Jessica Tuchman Matthews, raised hard prewar questions about the looming Iraq engagement. They predicted Iraq would become a long occupation and recruiting tool for al-Qaeda and would damage U.S. relations with the Muslim world. And: No weapons of mass destruction would be found.

One day back then, one of Matthews's colleagues ran into an acquaintance on the street, and that acquaintance warned: "What is your boss doing? Nobody at Carnegie is ever going to get through another Senate confirmation." And Matthews was herself admonished by a colleague at another think tank, who told her: "You're going to make Carnegie irrelevant. The war's going to happen and you ought to have Carnegie working on the after-war rather than on 'we shouldn't go to war.' "

Amid what she calls the "seemingly inexorable roll" toward war, the clear message was "you better get on the bandwagon or you'll never be taken seriously in this town again."

Instead, she looks like an accurate prognosticator. But, "you can't take any pleasure in having been right," says Matthews, "because this is a catastrophe for the United States and people are dying and didn't have to die, and it's going to take us years and years and years to dig out of this, and it's been a catastrophe for the Iraqi people."

Also repudiated were people who supported the war but diverged from the official administration line. Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, then the Army's chief of staff, was sharply rebuffed in early 2003 for publicly saying that several hundred thousand U.S. troops would be needed to keep the peace in Baghdad.

Now, as President Bush seeks additional troops for Iraq, it is widely agreed that the war was indeed prosecuted with too few troops - a seeming vindication for Shinseki, though he did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Vindication is a difficult and complex concept and one that has to be considered with many caveats, such as those presented by Zbigniew Brzezinski when asked if he felt vindicated.

"If vindication was accompanied by a sense that America is likely to undo the damage they have done and can disembarrass itself of the tragic involvement, then my answer would be yes."

But Brzezinski, former national security adviser under President Jimmy Carter, scarcely believes such course corrections will happen.

He opposed Bush's doctrine of preemption and assessed the war policy as one that "was propelled forward by mendacity." He spoke out before and during the war, and he believes his criticisms began to sting as the war began to falter. As a result, he says, he was ultimately shut out of high-level Defense and State Department briefings he had often attended and was publicly upbraided by a foreign policy peer.

Despite the broad sea change in opinion among the political and policy class, Brzezinski's sense of vindication has its limits, he says, because "I have the feeling that the president's team is hellbent on digging itself in more deeply and if it does not succeed in Iraq some of its wilder policymakers seem to be eager to enlarge the scope of the war to Iran."

"I'm saddened," he said, "because I think it's doing terrible harm to America. But more than being sad, which is an emotion, I'm worried."

From Afghanistan to Iraq to Iran?

Could this scenario actually play out? It is, among the vindicated, not at all absurd, for official Washington's sights have turned to Iran with "the same signs, a very similar drumbeat" as that which preceded the war in Iraq, says Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.).

Lee saw it coming - not Iran, but Iraq. Back in September 2001, days after the terror attacks, she saw the broadly worded congressional resolution authorizing President Bush to use force to fight terrorism as giving him a dangerous degree of carte blanche.

That early resolution allowed the president to "use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."

It is language that haunts her still.
I said then it was giving the administration a blank check to use in perpetuity," Lee says. "If you read that resolution, it's very clear that it was the beginning of a march to war."

She voted against that resolution - the only member of Congress to do so - and then took the barbs.

"It was a very tough period," she says. "To call me unpatriotic was the lowest of the low," especially considering that her father, an Army lieutenant colonel, served for 25 years and saw duty in World War II and Korea.

Now, she says, people are eager to tell her she was right. But "it's not about feeling vindicated," she says.

"I want people to understand that this is a very dangerous foreign policy, the administration's foreign and military policy is very dangerous, that the notion of preemptive war is very dangerous and that we need to support more rational approaches to our foreign and military policy."

Lee, like Odom and many others, is calling for the war to end. They are strange bedfellows - she, a progressive liberal; he, a usually hawkish conservative.

For months, Odom, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, has been pushing a "cut and run" policy. He even wrote a piece in the Los Angeles Times in October headlined "How to Cut and Run," in which he wrote, "We must cut and run tactically in order to succeed strategically."

He advocates troop withdrawal coupled with a diplomatic engagement with Iraq's neighbors, especially Iran, with whom the United States actually has common interests, nukes notwithstanding.

Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, formerly the top U.S. military man in the Middle East, started where Odom started - in opposition to the war. Zinni argued that going into Iraq would destabilize the region and distract from the fight against al-Qaeda.

For his opposition, he says he was accused by some fellow officers of having political motivations and was disinvited from attending meetings at the Joint Forces Command, where he'd been a regular as a senior mentor for more junior officers.

But he diverges from most early critics of the war, because he now is arguing that withdrawing from Iraq would destabilize the region. Instead, he says, a new strategic framework for the war is needed - something far broader than the increase Bush has proposed, which Zinni calls a "half-step."

"It's breaking my heart, watching it," he says of the war. "I was praying somehow I'd be wrong, but in my heart of hearts I knew it would happen this way - the bad decision-making, the insufficient troops."

Congress now is mulling varying resolutions on the war, but Zinni complains that "the debate is wrong. I think Congress is debating the arrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic."

But the ship, he argues, doesn't have to go down.

As the debate now centers on what can be salvaged from the U.S. engagement in Iraq, a cynical Washington exercise is underway, some of the vindicated say. It's a snake-like shedding of skin, a policy metamorphosis in which people who once were prominent cheerleaders for the war now are cozying up with the war's early opponents and distancing themselves from their earlier roles.

Matthews has seen it and fears it may warp the crucial debates about the way forward in Iraq and toward Iran.

"So many of the people who were wrong have gone on to being very visible pundits without ever admitting how wrong they were," Matthews says.

Brzezinski says there are some people - and he's talking "outside of the administration, of course" - who have embraced his positions in the oddest and most disingenuous way.

They say "that they are happy to have associated themselves with these views ...," Brzezinski says. "That is the funny part, because you meet people who say, 'Oh, I was with you all along.'"

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.